The 16 million Euro (US$22.6 million) EU poultry cage conversion plan will require the transfer of around 1.2 million laying hens to enriched cages in Ireland, a news report quoted agriculture Ireland's Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith.

Under the EU laying hens directive, enriched cages, barn or free-range systems should be used for egg production. The directive takes effect from 2012. The conversion to the new cage systems will cost Irish farmers around 40 million Euros (US$56 million). Enriched cages provide more space to the birds and have features such as additional perches and scratch areas.

A similar scheme of converting sows to loose sow housing has been welcomed by pig farmers. The estimated cost of converting 100,000 sows will be similar to that of the enriched cages.