H. Lukanov, D. Alexieva
Abstract. During the second half of the 20th century, in response to the growing pressure from environmental movements and organisations, European countries began to abandon rearing laying hens in battery cages, which were so far considered the most efficient husbandry system. Council Directive 1999/74/ЕC has banned housing laying hens in conventional cages effective from 1 January 2012, and only housing in enriched cages is allowed. Enriched cages are often called furnished or modified. They combine the main advantages of battery cage systems as intensity, maintenance of better hygienic parameters, restricted contact among birds and between birds and manure, better production indices, more efficient use of electrical energy, litter and veterinary medications. On the other side, furnished cages provide a larger living area for the bird, as well as perches, nests and other “enrichments” for satisfying the natural biological needs of poultry ensures the humane aspect of cage husbandry systems for laying hens. In some EC countries (Austria, Belgium), a trend to complete ban on battery cage rearing during the next decade is observed. In Switzerland, cage systems for laying hens, both in conventional and enriched cages, are completely prohibited.