| In a surprise show of compassion for millions of suffering laying chickens, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) voted at its annual meeting on Saturday, in Philadelphia, to stop supporting the factory-farm practice of starving hens to manipulate egg production - the practice known as forced molting. The surprise came after the AVMA had stated its intention to reject a resolution presented for the 6 th year by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights to cease support for a cruelty so traumatic as to wreck the birds' immunity making them prey to diseases including Salmonella . Food-deprived hens are driven to pluck each others' feathers for nutrients. Many choke to death when food is restored. Studies of U.S. flocks in 1997-1998 showed that "mortality doubled during the first week of molt, then doubled during the second week" of starvation.
United Poultry Concerns has worked for 11 years to get the AVMA to stop supporting the starvation of laying hens. UPC launched its campaign in a letter to the AVMA on June 8, 1993. On September 28, 1998, UPC sponsored the first animal rights protest ever held at the AVMA's headquarters, in Schaumburg, Illinois, with a banner proclaiming THE AVMA SUPPORTS STARVING HENS.
In the 1990s, United Poultry Concerns and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights published op-eds in newspapers around the country including The Chicago Tribune (03/ 31/1999), arguing that "Instead of condoning the starvation of hens for profit, the AVMA should stand up for the hens."
United Poultry Concerns protested at the AVMA convention last summer in Denver and at the AVMA convention in Philadelphia last weekend. On June 21, 2004, United Poultry Concerns joined Animal Rights International, PETA, and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights in sponsoring a full-page ad in The New York Times headlined: "Has anyone betrayed more animals than the American Veterinary Medical Association?"
"The AVMA's turnaround on forced molting shows how important it is for animal advocates to persist in their battles on behalf of suffering animals," says UPC President Karen Davis. "When appeals to conscience fail, public exposure is the next step. It is no longer 'humane' to starve hens, just as we said all along."
United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. www.upc-online.org