First Enriched Colony Layer System Installed

CALIFORNIA, US - J.S. West & Company has installed the first enriched colony housing system for laying hens in the country.
calendar icon 23 June 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

JS West & Company, a family-owned egg farming business in California, has announced that it has installed and opened the first enriched colony housing system for layer hens in the United States, and American Humane® Certified, the nation's largest and oldest third party certification of farm animal welfare, announced that it has certified the new system at JS West.

American Humane Certified recently announced that enriched colony housing meets its science-based standards for humane housing and can be certified. It is an additional option to producers seeking alternatives to conventional cages. Enriched colony housing and cage free both meet the American Humane science-based standards. Enriched colony systems provide hens with a wide range of behavioral opportunities such as perching, nesting and dust bathing. These natural behaviors are essential to the well-being of layer hens, according to recognised poultry animal scientists.

Jill Benson, vice president of JS West, said: "The enriched colony housing system, proven in the European Union for more than 10 years, provides a humane alternative to conventional cages. We are honoured and proud to be the first to install this new humane housing solution and be certified by American Humane. Based upon the language of Proposition 2 that states a bird must be able to sit down, stand up, turn around and extend her limbs without touching another bird or the sides of an enclosure, this solution meets the requirements regarding the housing of laying hens."

Temple Grandin, internationally renowned animal welfare expert commented: "Conventional cage housing systems do not offer hens sufficient room to express natural behaviours, whereas enriched cages provide space for them to lie down, spread their wings and turn around, as well as offering nests, perches and scratching areas. This is the direction that producers need to take, as they have successfully already done in Europe."

American Humane Certified vice president, Tim Amlaw, added: "We recognise that reasoned and science-based evaluation tells us that enriched colony housing, when implemented properly, is a humane way to raise hens and produce safe eggs for the marketplace. At the same time, we stress that any humane housing system must include proper training and education. We will employ video monitoring of the system to study the behavior of the hens, as well as appropriate management of the system. Producers will be able to take quick action to any issues that impact the well-being of both animals and people."

The Big Dutchman enriched colony housing system, installed in the JS West barn, has been awarded the American Humane Association's prestigious seal of approval for its equipment design that promotes the welfare of laying hens.

Terry Pollard, Big Dutchman's representative, said: "Throughout the world, over 30 million laying hens are being raised in these enriched colony housing systems. These systems promote the healthiest environment for laying hens on a commercial level. The birds have the ability to move about freely while at the same time enjoy the comfort and safety associated with being a part of a colony group of birds."

J S West & Company, a 100-year-old family farming business based in Modesto, California cares for 1.8 million hens and provides northern California consumers with safe, nutritious, local, affordable eggs. Third and fourth generations own and operate the family's three farms in two counties, providing jobs and much needed tax revenues in hard-hit rural areas. JS West leads the way in egg-laying hen care with American Humane Certified-endorsed Enriched Colony Barn.

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