An open house event served to inaugurate the Big Dutchman AVECH system installed by egg producer J.S. West of Livingston, Calif. The system is based on the EU design for colony cages, which have now received American Humane Association certification.
The house contains 150,000 hens at a stocking density of 116 sq. in. The system comprises parallel rows with six tiers. Each cage module contains a scratch pad, perches nipple drinkers, chain feeder and a nest area. The installation is monitored and controlled by a Poultry Management Systems computer.
The installation is expected to be the subject of contention since there is no assurance that it complies with the provisions of California Proposition 2. It is possible that J.S. West may use this installation as a test case to determine the limits of the vaguely worded proposition.
The HSUS, promoters of Proposition 2, has indicated that the AVECH and similar systems are unacceptable in terms of its concepts of housing.