Since the Big Dutchman multi-tier was launched in the UK in 2006, the number of birds under the system has soared from zero to about 0.5m hens, contributing to a total of 15m across Europe.

To celebrate this landmark Newquip recently hosted an open day with Nevill and Pat Ward at their Woodside Farm.

Managing director Philip Dye reported that the company was working flat out installing multi-tier units, most of them on free-range sites. Reports coming back from farms indicate that egg numbers were up and mortality down 4% due to the healthier lifestyle.

The Wards have have just started their first flock on the new Natura multi-tier system. They had diversified into free-range eggs in 2006 – from bull-beef, sheep and arable – with a traditional flat-deck system for 16,000 birds. But they switched to multi-tier for the climbing-frame approach that gives the birds more to do as well as allowing more birds under one roof while complying with Freedom Food welfare code on stocking density.

“We now have 16,000 birds in the multi-tier, taking just 60% of the floor space needed for the original system of the first flock,” said Mr Ward.

Newquip puts the cost of the system at £28 to £30 a bird. As adviser David Edwards puts it: “Multi-tier requires a greater equipment investment, but gives great savings on the building and groundworks, as it gets more birds under one roof.”

Housing in this instance came from Morspan and the groundworks by Connops.