Augustin, A. J., Crabbs, M. A., Sour, M. C. et al. 2020. Efficient, effective, reusable, and customizable social housing for chickens in the laboratory. Laboratory Animal Science Professional 8(5) (September/October), 56-58.
The Iowa State University Laboratory Animal Resources Department needed caging specifically designed and purposed to socially house chickens in the laboratory. As indoor housing requests for chickens increased, the need for a dedicated caging system for chickens became a high priority. We began by discussing different caging designs, options, and materials, focusing on creating a safe, reusable, and inexpensive caging system. Our in-house developed chicken cage has proven to be safe, functional, customizable, and easy to assemble/disassemble. We have successfully raised day-old chicks through to adulthood in this caging. We have also continually housed adult chickens for up to 3 mo and we believe we could house them beyond that should the need arise. The ability to combine multiple panels allows floor space to be adjusted as needed, and 30 in of cage height allows animals to comfortably stand erect with their feet on the floor as specified in the Guide. All components were inexpensive and easily obtainable, with all major components being reusable (the plastic sheeting, zip ties, and duct tape are the only disposable components). The FRP cage walls, PVC frame, and snow fencing all proved strong enough to withstand the rigors of animal use, cleaning, disinfection, and cage washing.