Cage Versus Noncage Laying-Hen Housings: Worker Respiratory Health

Diane Mitchell, Veronica Arteaga, Tracey Armitage, Frank Mitloehner, Daniel J Tancredi, Nicholas Kenyon, Marc B Schenker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to compare respiratory health of poultry workers in conventional cage, enriched cage and aviary layer housing on a single commercial facility, motivated by changing requirements for humane housing of hens. Three workers were randomly assigned daily, one to each of conventional cage, enriched cage, and aviary housing in a crossover repeated-measures design for three observation periods (for a total of 123 worker-days, eight different workers). Workers’ exposure to particles were assessed (Arteaga et al. J Agromedicine. 2015;20:this issue) and spirometry, exhaled nitric oxide, respiratory symptoms, and questionnaires were conducted pre- and post-shift. Personal exposures to particles and endotoxin were significantly higher in the aviary than the other housings (Arteaga et al., 2015). The use of respiratory protection was high; the median usage was 70% of the shift. Mixed-effects multivariate regression models of respiratory cross-shift changes were marginally significant, but the aviary system consistently posted the highest decrements for forced expiratory volume in 1 and 6 seconds (FEV<inf>1</inf> and FEV<inf>6</inf>) compared with the enriched or conventional housing. The adjusted mean difference in FEV<inf>1</inf> aviary − enriched cage housing was −47 mL/s, 95% confidence interval (CI): (−99 to 4.9), P =.07. Similarly, for FEV<inf>6</inf>, aviary − conventional housing adjusted mean difference was −52.9 mL/6 s, 95% CI: (−108 to 2.4), P =.06. Workers adopting greater than median use of respiratory protection were less likely to exhibit negative cross-shift pulmonary function changes. Although aviary housing exposed workers to significantly higher respiratory exposures, cross-shift pulmonary function changes did not differ significantly between houses. Higher levels of mask use were protective; poultry workers should wear respiratory protection as appropriate to avoid health decrements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-264
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Agromedicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015


  • Laying-hen housing
  • occupational health
  • poultry workers
  • pulmonary function
  • respiratory exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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