Mike Wilkinson

In 2013 I listened to Mike Wilkinson give a presentation about his 48,000 free range hens which he keeps in two multi-tier units, popular in Holland.

A multi-tier system offers birds different tiers within one building in which they can freely move around. The hens are trained how to use the system from chick stage, a process controlled by freedom Food regulations to ensure the chicks cope well with the learning process. This early education gives the young hens confidence to jump from tier to tier and teaches them that food and water is available on all levels, as well as showing them they can venture outside to free range.

Mike runs the farm with his wife, Lorna, and enthusiastic family, who enjoy collecting the eggs and he is so proud of his hen welfare that he invites local school children to visit. He admitted on first view, children see what they think is a cage – there is a lot of metal in a multi-tier system–but Mike explains how the birds are free to move around the large shed and roam outside during daylight. One 9 year old lad, who clearly under-stood the concept, expressed his delight: “Wow, look at that huge climbing frame for hens!” And that’s how Mike sees it too.

Mike’s birds have excellent welfare, which shows through their healthy weight, low mortality and high egg production.

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