What is Forced Molting?
The practice of starving hens for profit is known as forced-molting. Molting literally refers to the replacement of old feathers by new ones. In nature, birds replace all their feathers in the course of a year to maintain good plumage at all times. A natural molt often happens at the onset of winter, when nature discourages the hatching of chicks. The hen stops laying eggs and concentrates her energies on staying warm and growing new feathers.
The egg industry exploits this natural process by forcing an entire flock to molt simultaneously. This is done to manipulate the marketplace and to pump a few hundred more eggs out of exhausted hens when it is deemed cheaper to "recycle" them rather than immediately slaughter them after a year of relentless egg- laying on a calcium-deficient diet.
To trigger the physiological shock of the forced molt, a University of California poultry researcher (Donald Bell) recommends the removal of all food for no less than five days and as long as fourteen days. Survivors may be force-molted two or three times, based on economics. At any given time over 6 million hens in the U.S. are being systematically starved in their cages, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dr. Peter Dun, an animal scientist from Scotland, said hens are force molted in the United States “until their combs turn blue.”
More information on forced molting
- The Animal Welfare and Food Safety Issues Associated With the Forced Molting of Laying Birds 23 September 2003
- Black Eagle Farm: Chicken Starvation, Consumer Fraud, Cruelty 18 November 2010
- Little Rhody Egg Farms: Starving Hens for Profit UPC Summer-Fall 2009 Poultry Press
- UPC Tells Little Rhody Egg Farms Owner: Stop Starving Your Hens! 18 August 2009
- Latest Information About Forced Molting of Hens in the U.S. 7 July 2008
- ABC News Cites United Poultry Concerns on the Power of Advertising 26 September 2007
- News Release: Hens Will No Longer Be Starved But They Will Still Suffer 10 June 2005
- Hens Will No Longer Be Starved But They Will Still Suffer (full story) 9 June 2005
- UPC's Comments to the FDA on the Forced Molting of Laying Birds 24 December 2004
- YOUR HELP REQUESTED 13 December 2004
- Veterinary Association Will No Longer Support Starving Hens 29 July 2004
- UPC President and AVAR Veterinary Consultant Publish Replies to Veterinarian Who Calls Wood Chipper a Humane Death for Thousands of Chickens. Letters and Action Alerts Follow. 27 June 2004
- Today's New York Times Runs Full Page Ad Targeting AVMA Perfidy 21 June 2004
- United Poultry Concerns Petitioners Urge Egg Industry to Stop Starving Chickens 21 January 2004
- United Egg Producers add new molting feed alternative to Animal Care Guidelines 29 September 2003
- AVMA Delegates Call for Review of Sow Gestation Stalls and Induced Moliting 24 July 2003
- Could the egg industry's practices be making you sick? 19 February 2002 - 10tv.com
- Cracks in the Egg Industry - WPost Article on Forced Molting 30 April 2000
- UPC Egg Safety Comments to FDA 14 August 2000
- Feedstuffs article on UPC/forced molting 13 August 2000
- Ian J.H. Duncan Letter: Forced Molting Violates California's Animal Cruelty Laws 13 November 2000
- Starving Hens for Profit Has Got to Stop
- News Release: The Egg Industry Must Stop Starving Hens 27 September 1999
- AVMA Should Have A Consistent Ethic On Animal Care UPC Summer 1999 Poultry Press
- Balancing Economics and Evil UPC Summer/Fall 1998 Poultry Press
- Sample of Self-Reported Results from UPC Survey of U.S. Egg Industry on Forced Molting UPC Spring/Summer 1998 Poultry Press
- UPC Letter Sent to FDA on Forced Molting - September, 1999
- Full Length Report on Forced Molting of Laying Hens (Petition to USDA/FDA) 1 April 1998
Help UPC's Ongoing Campaign to Stop Forced Molting of Laying Hens
- Action Alert - Tell UEP To Practice What They Preach:Stop Starving Hens! 9 April 2002
- Support Illinois Bill to Ban Forced Molting UPC Spring 2001 Poultry Press
llinois House Bill 0756, The Safe Egg and Laying Hen Protection Act, would ban the forced molting of hens used for egg production.
- California Bill To Ban Forced Molting: Update UPC Summer 2000 Poultry Press
Keep the pressure on United Egg Producers and contact your local supermarkets.
- The Incredible IN-EDIBLE Egg UPC Winter 1999/2000 Poultry Press
Tell The Today Show to stop promoting the Incredible In-Edible Egg. The majority of eggs come from suffering, sick, debeaked hens imprisoned in filthy wire cages and subjected to deliberate starvation.
- UPC CAMPAIGN TO BAN STARVATION OF HENS UPC Fall 1999 Poultry Press
Here is yet another opportunity to make your voice heard. The President's Council on Food Safety is seeking public input on ways to reduce foodborne illness in the nation's food supply. There is no deadline, but don't wait! Click above link for Docket numbers and addresses to write to.
- AVMA Betrays Veterinarian's Oath UPC Fall 1999 Poultry Press
Tell the AVMA to oppose the withholding of food from hens for any length of time. Tell the association to live up to its oath to protect public and animal health and relieve animal suffering.
- Ask Your Local Newspaper to Print "Starving Hens For Profit Has Got to Stop" Op-Ed. UPC Winter/Spring 1998 Poultry Press
- Keep Forced Molting Out of Canada UPC Spring 1999 Poultry Press
- FORCED MOLTING of Laying Hens: Tell the Egg Industry to STOP UPC Summer 1997 Poultry Press
DEMAND A BAN. In 1994, Joy Mench, a poultry researcher, warned a meeting of the Egg Association of America that "in terms of public sentiment," the U.S. industry needs to look at forced molting. She noted that "in Europe, feed restriction is limited to one day because of stress to the birds."
- Stop purchasing poultry and eggs, including processed foods that include poultry and egg ingredients--"chicken broth," egg whites, and other hen horrors. Forced molting is not confined to battery hens. So-called "free-range" hens and breeder fowl are subjected to the practice, as well. Wash your hands of eggs, egg whites, and poultry products.
Previous News and Alerts on Forced Molting
- California Assembly Ag Committee Forced Molting Hearing on May 3, 2000 1 May 2000
- California Introduces First Bill to Ban Forced Molting UPC Winter/Spring 2000 Poultry Press
California Assemblyman Ted Lempert has introduced the first bill in the United States that would make it "Unlawful to intentionally deprive any bird used for egg-laying purposes of water or food or both on a daily basis or otherwise cause an induced or forced molt that results in harm to the bird."
- UPC Campaign to Elminate Forced Molting UPC Summer 1999 Poultry Press
- AVMA Refuses To Set Welfare Precedent for Millions of Hens UPC Spring 1999 Poultry Press
- UPC and AVAR Hold News Conference to Highlight Forced Molting Abuse UPC Spring 1999 Poultry Press
- Starvation and Motherhood are not the same. UPC Winter/Spring 1998 Poultry Press
AVMA's false comparison of forced molting and "the natural brooding cycle" in chickens and other birds.
- Forced Molting Ad run in the September, 1998 issue of DVM, asking Veterinarians to join us in urging the AVMA to oppose the forced molting of laying hens. UPC Summer 1998 Poultry Press
- April 1, 1998 UPC/AVAR Petition to US Government (FDA and USDA) to eliminate the deliberate starvation practice by the U.S. egg industry known as forced molting.
- UPC Urges AVMA to oppose forced molting UPC Winter 1997/98 Poultry Press