The next alternative to conventional battery cages is the free run housing system. This system is separate and distinctive from the free range housing system. In a free run system, sometimes known as an “aviary”, hens are housed together in a large bun without cages. This husbandry method is similar to how broiler chickens are housed.
Source: Egg Farmers of Alberta
Free run systems commonly have the following provisions:
- Automated communal feeding systems
- Litter flooring
- Dust-bathing areas
- Private nesting areas
While the added welfare benefits of increased movement/decreased restriction with the removal of the cage, there are also downsides to this housing method. For example, perhaps the most prominent disadvantage is the significantly increased ammonia and dust levels (Street, 2012).