Abstract Poultry-keeping nowadays is carried out in all parts of the world. That means that we are all responsible for the implementation of a suitable form of husbandry designed in the light of present knowledge and findings. Many factors are essential to the fowl's normal behaviour: daylight; sufficient space, a 3-dimensional interior with a litter-covered floor, perches and roosts; appropriate feed; egg-laying area with suitable nesting facilities. Free-range husbandry systems are particularly useful for private production and as illustrative teaching aids. Among the large indoor husbandry systems, aviary systems which have been developed under close observation in Switzerland since 1979 have already come into practice for egg production and growing chicks. Alternative husbandry systems are now being developed, or have been introduced, for production in the Federal Republic of Germany, Denmark, France, Great Britain and The Netherlands. They differ in construction primarily in the size of the litter-covered area, its position and its accessibility in relation to the grid covering the dropping area. The economics of the alternative systems are acceptable. However, there is difficulty in applying calculations from one country to another. Husbandry systems for breeding and keeping laying hens and parent stock which are practicable and correspond to behavioural demands have already been developed. Qualified advice on alternative systems should be available and the transition to these systems should be implemented with, and safeguarded by, politico-economic measures.