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Housing management

Types of housing adopted in commercial production of layers and broilers, floor space requirements explained here

General layout of poultry house

  • Poultry house should be located away from residential and industrial area.
  • It should have proper road facilities.
  • It should have the basic amenities like water and electricity.
  • Availability of farm labourers at relatively cheaper wages.
  • Poultry house should be located in an elevated area and there should not be any water-logging.
  • It should have proper ventilation.
  • Layout should not allow visitors or outside vehicles near the sheds.
  • The sheds should be so located that the fresh air first passes through the brooder shed, followed by grower and layer sheds. This will prevent the spread of diseases from layer houses to brooder house.
  • There should be a minimum distance of 50-100 feet between chick and grower shed and the distance between grower and layer sheds should be of minimum 100 metre.
  • The egg store room, office room and the feed store room should be located near entrance to minimize the movement of people around the poultry sheds.
  • The disposal pit and sick room should be constructed only at the extreme end of the site.

Different types of housing for poultry

Deep litter

  • In this system the birds are kept in litter floor.
  • Arrangement for feed, water and nest are made inside the house.
  • Fresh litter materials spread on the floor.
  • The birds are kept on suitable litter material of about 3” to 5” depth.
  • Usually paddy husk, saw dust, ground nut hulls, chopped paddy straw or wood shavings are used as litter materials.
  • This arrangement saves labour involved in frequent cleaning of faecal matter (droppings), however it needs periodical stirring.
  • The litter is spread on the floor in layers of 2” height every fortnightly till the required drying is achieved.


  • Vit B2 and Vit B12 are made available to birds from the litter material by the bacterial action.
  • The welfare of birds is maintained to some extent.
  • The deep litter manure is a useful fertilizer.
  • Lesser nuisance from flies when compared to cage system.


  • Because of the direct contact between bird and litter, bacterial and parasitic disease may be a problem.
  • Respiratory problems may emerge due to dust from the litter.
  • The cost of litter is an additional expenditure on production cost.
  • Faults in ventilation can have more serious consequences than in the cage system.

Cage system

  • This system involves rearing of poultry on raised wire netting floor in smaller compartments, called cages, either fitted with stands on floor of house or hanged from the roof.
  • It has been proved very efficient for laying operations, right from day-old to till disposal.
  • At present, 75% of commercial layers in the world are kept in cages.
  • Feeders and waterers are attached to cages from outside except nipple waterers, for which pipeline is installed through or above cages.
  • Auto-operated feeding trolleys and egg collection belts can also be used in this rearing system.
  • The droppings are either collected in trays underneath cages or on belts or on the floor or deep pit under cages, depending on type of cages.


  • Minimum floor space is needed.
  • More number of eggs per hen can be received.
  • Less feed wastage.
  • Better feed efficiency.
  • Protection from internal parasites and soil borne illnesses.
  • Sick and unproductive birds can be easily identified and eliminated.
  • Clean eggs production.
  • Vices like egg eating, pecking is minimal.
  • Broodiness is minimal.
  • No need of litter material.
  • Artificial Insemination (AI) can be adopted.


  • High initial investment cost.
  • Handling of manure may be problem. Generally, flies become a greater nuisance.
  • The incidence of blood spots in egg is more.
  • Problem of cage layer fatigue. (It is a condition, in which laying birds in cages develop lameness. It may be due to Ca and P deficiency but the exact reason is not known)
  • In case of broilers, incidence of breast blisters is more, especially when the broilers weight is more than 1.5 kg.

Elevated cage system

  • The height of the shed is raised by 6-7 feet using concrete pillars.
  • The distance between two pillars is 10 feet.
  • Two feet wide concrete platforms are made over the pillars. When 3 ‘M’ type cages are arranged 4 platforms are needed.
  • In case of 2 ‘M’ and 2 ‘L’ type cages are arranged 3 platforms are needed.
  • When constructing platforms projecting angles or iron rods to be provided to fix the cages.
  • The inter-platform distance is 6-7 feet depending upon the type of the cages used.
  • The total height of the house is 20-25 feet and the width is 30-33 feet.
  • This type of house provides sufficient ventilation in tropical countries.

Cage rearing of broilers

Broilers can also be reared on cages.  Broiler cages are similar to that of grower cages.  To prevent the breast blisters, the bottom of the cage may be coated with some plastic materials.  The floor space requirement in cages is 50% of the floor space needed in deep-litter. The relative advantages and disadvantages of cage rearing of broilers are,


  • Higher density of rearing possible
  • Easy to catch the birds at market time and hence reduces bruising
  • No expenditure on litter
  • No incidences of coccidiosis
  • Reduced cannibalism
  • Cleaning and disinfection easier
  • Better growth and feed efficiency


  • Higher incidences of breast-blisters which increases carcass condemnations
  • Higher incidences of crooked keel
  • Wing bones will be more brittle which will be a disadvantage for the processor also.
  • Birds are not having access to the unidentified growth factors in deep-litter system.
  • Cleaning faecal-trays is not labour friendly.
  • High initial investment on cages.
  • Birds will be uncomfortable especially during summer

Floor space requirement for poultry - layers

Age (weeks)

Deep litter (ft2)

Cages (ft2)











Floor space requirement for poultry – broilers


Floor space/ bird

Up to 18 days

450 cm2

(0.5 sq.ft.)

From 19 days to 42 days

1000 cm2 (1.1 sq.ft.)


Source: Expert System on Poultry, ICAR-TANUVAS-TNAU

Kenneth Sep 21, 2017 03:24 PM

Can the broiler housing be made one on top of the other??

Karkuvel babu Jun 23, 2017 07:53 PM

Litter can be prepared from the water (or) just easily available materials from home (or) any industries etc.

Aminu A. Umar Tambuwal Nov 30, 2015 05:00 PM

As long as your housing design can offer adequate protection from the weather elements prevailing in your area, housing chickens at that level is okay. However, another concern now is altitude. your altitude & the additional rise in height can exert pressure on production factors necessary for the success of the entreprise.
i recommend you consult a poultry specialist with years of experience of production in your local environment.Tthis suggestion is valid. Dont ignore it !!!

Yusufu Eguda Oct 19, 2015 09:30 PM

The roof top of my house is decked with concrete. Can I construct a chicken house on the concrete deck for deep litter for boilers and layers. I live in Yola, Adamawa State of Nigeria. Thanks.

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