The layer industry is transforming with the consumer-driven shift to cage-free eggs in many parts of the world. More than 200 different retailers in the USA have announced their intent to purchase only cage-free eggs in the future. Meeting this demand will require a sharp increase in housing square footage due to lower density, which will involve costly investments into cage-free housing. With the transition to cage-free production, gut health and farm management will play an even more vital role in maintaining good bird performance. Innovative new strategies must be used to quell disease and boost performance. These emerging strategies focus on moving from the direct effect of antimicrobials to the indirect effects that come from stimulating immune development and supporting the establishment of a beneficial microbiota.