The following excerpt is from an article by Stephen P. Hoffert in The Scientist (, July 20, 1998, "Researchers Take Strides Against Salmonella":

Induced Molting Questions

[USDA immunologist Peter S.] Holt became interested in finding more effective strategies against SE [Salmonella Enteritidis] when he was doing research on the effect of molting on the chicken's immune system. In that research, he found that "induced molting" raised the risk of SE infection in chickens and raised bacteria counts in those already infected. Induced molting is a common but controversial practice among egg producers in the U.S. Farmers, observing declining egg production in flocks, stop feeding chickens to produce weight loss and force molting [molting = feather loss]. . . .

"Activists such as Karen Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns, have taken a strong view of the research and say that the connection between Salmonella infection and induced molting ought to prompt egg producers to abandon the practice. Davis says the practice of induced molting is really forced starvation of laying hens and serves only the economic interests of producers. 'Research has shown that Salmonella and forced molting are linked,' Davis says. 'This fact is concerning, but the bottom line is that this practice is cruel to chickens. Hens are essentially starved, and many die because of this practice.'

"According to guidelines on molting from feed companies, chickens are fasted [sic: a fast is a voluntary denial of food. The correct term for involuntary food deprivation is starvation. UPC editor's note] for 12 days to achieve a body weight reduction of about 30 percent. If mortality during this period exceeds 0.5 percent per day for the flock, egg producers are advised to resume normal feeding [>not out of pity but because the economically acceptable number of dead hens is being exceeded. UPC editor's note]. Davis says this practice, among others utilized in the egg and poultry industry, is inhumane. She is now leading a campaign urging FDA to outlaw the practice in the U.S.

"In some European nations, health concerns and public pressure have prompted policymakers to ban the practice of induced molting. In the USDA's Pennsylvania Pilot Program for risk management of SE in flocks, farmers have stopped induced molting in chickens known to be infected with SE. But Holt says it is unlikely that research relating SE and induced molting will ultimately prompt U.S. egg producers to completely abandon the practice. 'Egg producers face a difficult situation,' he says. 'Many view induced molting as essential for maximizing productivity of laying hens. SE infection, of course, has a cost and they will have to find a way to balance these economic interests."

What Can I Do?
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture immunologist Peter S. Holt, quoted above, has been starving hens in government-sponsored-- make that your tax dollars – experiments for years, then publishing reports that the starvation of chickens promotes immune system breakdown, diseases, contaminated feather and mouse-feces consumption, and death. Contact Peter Holt and academic career force-molter, Donald Bell. Urge them to take a stand against forced molting and to use their influence in the egg industry to stop the practice.
    Peter S. Holt, PhD
    SE Poultry Research Lab
    934 College Station Road
    Athens, GA 30605

    Donald D. Bell
    Dept of Poultry Science
    University of California, Riverside
    900 University Avenue
    Riverside, CA 92521

  • UPC's petition requesting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to eliminate forced molting was filed by the FDA on April 14, 1998 under docket number 98P-0203/CP. Urge the FDA to grant our petition (filed jointly with the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights). Include docket number 98P-0203/CP when you write to:
    Dockets Management Branch
    Food and Drug Administration
    Dept of Health & Human Services
    12420 Parklawn Drive, Room 1-23
    Rockville, MD 20857

  • Mass consumption of eggs and products with eggs is the basis of forced molting. Please stop buying eggs and foods that include egg whites and other egg ingredients. Read labels. If we lack the power and the will to change ourselves, how can we hope to change the government, the egg industry and their flunky researchers when the same amount of money – from our own pockets! – keeps rolling in? Order Replacing Eggs today and STOP CRACKING!