The cost per dozen eggs produced in enriched cages is 15% to 17% higher than in conventional cages, according to Tom Silva of JS West.

Silva, who spoke at the Egg Industry Issues Forum hosted by the Egg Industry Center of Iowa State University, said the enriched system requires a premium of 10 to 12 cents per dozen to compensate for additional costs.

JS West studied its 151,200 hens housed in enriched cages and compared these birds' results with hens in conventional battery cages through 50 weeks of age. To 50 weeks of age, hen-housed egg production for the two systems was 197 and 191 for the enriched and conventional cages, respectively, with mortality attaining 1.4% and 0.9%. Average production for the period 20 through 50 weeks was 89.4% for enriched cages and 88.3% for conventional cages.

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Feed intake per dozen attained 3.7 pounds for the enriched system and 2.94 pounds in conventional cages. Since body weight for the two groups were 3.45 pounds and 3.47 pounds, respectively, inferior feed conversion in enriched cages is attributed in part to increased movement and to the average case weight of 48.8 pounds for enriched cages and 47.0 pounds for conventional batteries.

This system, supplied by Big Dutchman International, along with similar installations, has received the seal of approval of the American Humane Association.