Traditionally, producers have used a flat deck system which is a hen house that’s on a single level, but multi-tier sheds are now available and widely used in the UK and also throughout Europe.
Rather than a shed having one level, it has two or sometimes three levels (or tiers) for birds to perch on.
Multi-tier sheds have the same numbers of birds in a shed as the flat deck system, these systems have a smaller footprint but utilise the height of the shed.
Nestboxes, feed and water are available on different tiers allowing birds to perch high.
The stocking density is nine hens per square metre of slatted area, and 34% of the total floor space must be a used as an area for the birds to scratch around in.
To people who have never been in a hen house before, it probably would appear to be crowded but birds actually like being in groups and the multiple tiers allow the more dominant birds in the flock to climb to the higher perches.
Perching and jumping from one level to another is part of a chicken’s natural instinct, so the different tiers allow the birds to display their natural instincts.
The birds enjoy unrestricted access to the outdoors during daylight hours, just like in any other free range production system.
Different systems suit different producers and depend on a wide range of influencing factors.
New sheds cost tens of thousands of pounds to build so producers always look at the options available to them and only spend money on the system that is right for their birds and their farm.
Multi-Tier systems allow the birds to perch safely at night and range amongst the woodland and pasture during the day.