JS West Installs First Enriched Colony Housing System for Layer Hens in the United States

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American Humane® Certified approves and certifies housing system as humane solution that meets the requirements of Proposition 2

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This is the direction that producers need to take, as they have successfully already done in Europe.

JS West & Company, a family owned egg farming business in California, announced today 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 recognized poultry animal scientists.

“The enriched colony housing system, proven in the European Union for more than 10 years, provides a humane alternative to conventional cages,” said Jill Benson, vice president of JS West. “We are honored 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, turnaround 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 said, “Conventional cage housing systems do not offer hens sufficient room to express natural behaviors, 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.”

“We recognize 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,” said American Humane Certified vice president, Tim Amlaw. “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.

“Throughout the world over 30 million laying hens are being raised in these enriched colony housing systems,” said Terry Pollard, Big Dutchman’s representative. “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.”

About JS West & Company
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.

About American Humane® Certified
American Humane Certified is the United States’ first animal-welfare program dedicated to the humane treatment of farm animals. It is the fastest growing independent animal-welfare label program in the U.S. American Humane has certified producers representing more than 60 million farm animals through American Humane’s science-based program. American Humane auditors are rigorously trained in the American Humane Certified species-specific standards. As consumers and retailers are increasingly concerned about how food is raised, producers are seeking independent verification for the marketplace. American Humane Certified believes animal welfare should not only be good for animals but also economically viable and feasible for producers. American Humane Certified works with agriculture to educate and motivate producers and demonstrate the economic and social benefits of animal welfare. American Humane Certified works closely with its independent Scientific Advisory Committee, industry professionals and producers to ensure that industry advancements and best practices are part of American Humane certification standards. Based on American Humane’s 133-year legacy of being the gold standard for humane behavior, consumers trust the American Humane Certified label. Learn more at http://www.thehumanetouch.org.

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