Investigating the impact of cages on laying hens

By Peter Kent

Clemson scientist with caged chickensAnimal protection advocates want to eliminate caged-layer egg production but there isn’t much data on the impact that cage systems have on chickens.

To meet egg industry needs for sciencebased information, Clemson animal behaviorist Peter Skewes is researching the impact cages and other confinements have on the development and well-being of hens.

“Cages were designed to keep hens clean, safe from predators, protected from adverse weather conditions and easily medicated to prevent disease,” said Skewes. “Initially, little thought was given to how cages affected behavioral needs.”

More is at stake than just the comfort of chickens, though the well-being of 284 million U.S. laying hens is no small matter. Nearly 95 percent of the 90 billion table eggs produced in the United States come from high-density cage systems. The value of South Carolina egg production is about $90 million annually.

For information: Peter Skewes, 864-656-4026,