United Poultry Concerns
Urges the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to oppose
the forced molting of laying birds. Veterinarians and others are
encouraged to write to the AVMA.
Bruce Little, DVM, Executive Vice President
American Veterinary Medical Association
1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360
Machipongo, Va - If you are a veterinarian or have
a professional relationship with a veterinarian, please ask him
or her to write a letter to the AVMA requesting a change in the
AVMA’s policy statement regarding the forced molting of
laying birds. Forced molting, a practice used by 75% - 80% of
the US egg industry, involves the intentional withholding of ALL
food from hens for 5-21 days (typically 10-14) to force a molt.
In commercial terms, a molt refers to the forced cessation of
egg production and shedding of feathers by food deprivation in
flocks of hens intended to be used for another laying cycle comprising
the survivors of the forced molt.
Force-molted hens are intentionally starved until
they lose 30% of their body weight, causing loss of liver and
muscle mass and increased susceptibility to Salmonella enteritidis
infection. Forced molting, as opposed to natural molting, is done
to manipulate the economics of egg production.
At its July 2003 meeting in Denver, CO, the AVMA’s
Reference Committee will hear a resolution presented by the Association
of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR) recommending that all
hens used in commercial egg production receive fresh water and
nutritionally adequate food on a daily basis and that the AVMA
oppose forced molting when it involves the withholding of water
or food or employs some other means of causing a molt which results
in malnutrition or other ill health.
Last year, the AVMA adopted a resolution that opposes
prolonged total food deprivation but allows for “intermittent
feeding” and “diets of low nutrient density”
designed to force hens to molt. http://www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/sep02/020901d.asp.
The resolution erroneously refers to forced, or
“induced,” molting as a process that simulates natural
molting, and promotes more research instead of condemning this
well-researched inhumane practice. Regarding the AVMA’s
assertion that forced molting simulates natural molting, Dr. Ian
J.H. Duncan, Professor of Poultry Ethology, Chair in Animal Welfare,
Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the University of
Non-veterinarians are encouraged to write polite
letters to the AVMA with the understanding that the AVMA is influenced
primarily by requests from its members.
Please click here to view UPC’s 2003 Report
to the AVMA, “The Animal Welfare and Food Safety Issues
Associated With the Forced Molting of Laying Birds”: http://www.upc-online.org/molting/52703.htm
United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization
that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic