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The average hen lays about 320 eggs per year.
Laying hens
Hens in an aviary
Hens in enriched housing
Canadian laying hens – the ones who lay the eggs we eat – live primarily in  ve different types of housing systems:
• Enriched – Hens are housed in smaller, more naturally sized groups with nest boxes, scratch pads, and perches, to allow them to exhibit natural behaviour. This will be the industry standard in Canada by 2036.
• Free run – Hens are raised inside barns, where they have access to the entire barn  oor area but don’t go outside. Hens are able to scratch and lay their eggs in nesting boxes.
• Free range – Hens are raised in barns, with access to outdoor areas when weather conditions allow. Hens are still able to scratch and lay their eggs in nesting boxes.
• Aviary – Hens are raised inside the barn, with several levels on which they perch, feed, and drink. They lay their eggs in nest boxes and can access the  oor level to scratch and dust bathe.
• Conventional – Hens live in small groups with equal access to fresh food and water. They have mesh  oors that allow the hens’ waste to fall away, keeping the birds and eggs clean.
Canadian egg farmers began phasing out conventional housing systems in 2014. Any
new barns being constructed, or existing barns being renovated, must follow the new housing standards. In some European countries, where consumer demand led to the end of conventional hen housing, farmers are now trying to address different animal welfare challenges: higher levels of dust and ammonia, cannibalism among the birds, and feather- pecking. Birds can be bullies too, with the stronger birds in a  ock dominating the weaker ones by pecking them, and controlling access to food and water. This situation is where the expression “pecking order” originated.
Research is ongoing in Canada, and around the world, to  nd the best housing solutions for birds, farmers and consumers.
Pro le
Alan & Cathy Stannard
Alan and Cathy Stannard are the owners and operators of an egg farm outside Whitehorse, Yukon. With a passion for locally-sourced food, the couple purchased the 160-acre property in 2009. They initially grew hay and boarded horses, though also kept meat chickens and turkeys. Today, with the help of their son Duncan, they raise laying hens and provide eggs to local grocery stores.
Farming in northern regions can pose unique challenges, like high transportation costs and low winter temperatures, so Alan says they spent six years researching options before constructing a new egg barn. That barn – which was  nished
in 2017 – is equipped with a centrally controlled computer system designed to keep their birds healthy and comfortable, while being easy to use in all conditions.
Check out to see the  ve different types of hen housing, and to  nd out what the labels on the
egg cartons mean.
The Real Dirt on Farming 9
Alan, Cathy & Duncan Stannard

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