Animal Care
A healthy hen is a high quality, producing hen. That’s why our farmers who provide fresh Burnbrae Farms eggs for your table are committed to handling hens in a safe and humane manner. Our farmers make this commitment to their hens 24 hours a day; 365 days every year.

In Canada, the majority of hens are housed indoors where they can be closely monitored. There are four main types of housing systems for laying hens:
  • Conventional housing
    Hens are housed together in small groups in cages that offer easy access to food and water. The eggs are gathered either by hand or conveyer. This is the predominant housing system used by egg farmers in Canada. Visit our “Eggs for Life” blog to learn more.
  • Enriched housing
    Hens are raised in small groups in cages varying in size from 16 to 60 birds where they are free to perch and lay their eggs in a nesting area with easy access to food and water. Like the conventional system, the eggs are gathered by hand or conveyor.
    Visit our "Eggs for Life" blog to learn more.
  • Free-run housing
    Hens live freely on wire or slatted floors, some with bedding areas in an enclosed barn. They have access to feed and water, perches for roosting and nesting areas to lay their eggs. Visit our “Eggs for Life” blog to learn more.
  • Free-range housing
    Free-range housing is similar to free-run housing except the birds have access to a restricted outside area, weather permitting. The hens are also provided with bedding areas where they can dust bathe.
While these last two housing systems offer the greatest freedom of activity, it also exposes the hens to greater risks. Feed and water access for the hens can be more challenging as well. Bird monitoring is more labour intensive for our farmers in free run and free-range barns.

Regardless of the housing system used, our farmers closely monitor their hens throughout each day to ensure they are healthy, clean, and have access to abundant food and water.

Hens thrive in an environment with good ventilation and prefer consistent temperatures. Hen barns are typically maintained at 21-25° Celsius, which keeps the birds warm in the winter and cooler in the summer. Laying eggs is a natural response to the lengthening days of spring. This is simulated in hen barns by increasing light to a maximum of 16 hours per day. During the remaining hours, the lights are turned off so the hens can rest – they need their sleep too.

Antibiotics are very rarely used on any layer hen farm. Medication is provided only when the hens become sick and is administered under the supervision of a veterinarian. Hens are vaccinated when they are young to build defenses against diseases during their adult lives.

The use of steroids and hormones has been banned in the Canadian egg industry for more than 50 years. Canadian poultry farms do not use steroids or hormones.

Our farmers, as well as their families and employees, take their responsibility seriously when it comes to ensuring top quality hen care. In Canada, all egg farmers follow the Code of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals as a guide. The Egg Farmers of Canada Animal Care Audit is also based on the Code of Practice.
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