JS West & Company, a family owned egg farming business in California, have installed and opened the first enriched colony housing system for layer hens in the United States.
JS West & Companies is the first company to build a facility allowing hens to live a healthier lifestyle in compliance with Proposition 2, which was passed by California voters in 2008.
Prop. 2, passed with a 63% yes vote, requires a more humane and suitable living area for hens by 2015, but JS West accelerated the timeline in order to set a new industry standard, deliver a higher quality product and meet consumer demand for locally produced products.
The new JS West housing system in California’s Central Valley includes a two-story building that accommodates 150,000 birds. The building is equipped with a series of six-tier enclosures with a walkway in between each. The enclosures are four feet by 12 feet, which allows each hen to sit, stand, stretch, and turn around, complying with Prop. 2 standards.
The new design gives the hens the opportunity to participate in activities that come naturally to them. With no partition set in the middle, the hens have access to both sides of each enclosure, which are fitted with “enrichments” throughout. Enrichments give the hens the ability to perch, scratch, dust bathe, nest, eat and drink at any time that is convenient for them.
Due to the new enclosures and expanded space, the hens are able to get more exercise on a daily basis causing them to eat and drink more than a hen in a smaller enclosure. This new facility also ensures that hens are protected from outdoor predators and that they do not step or habitat in their own manure, which ensures a cleaner environment.
The new housing also includes state-of-the-art computerized systems, which provide real-time information on current and past feed consumption data, water consumption, temperature and air flowing through the building. JS West has also set up cameras that stream live feed available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week atjswest.com, allowing consumers to see the hens in their natural environment.