Forced Molting of Laying Hens

Please Write to the American Veterinary Medical Association


United Poultry Concerns (UPC) and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR) have initiated a campaign to stop the forced molting of laying hens. (See PoultryPress Vol. 7, No. 3). Forced molting – the deliberate starvation of laying hens for 5 to 14 days straight--is used by the U.S. egg industry to control egg supplies and prices. Abruptly deprived of all food, the hens go into physiologic shock, lose their feathers, and stop laying eggs for about two months. Many die. If a person starved his or her dog or cat for days or weeks, that person would be charged with cruelty. Yet each year the egg industry intentionally deprives millions of hens of food for up to 10 days under the protective cover of "standard agricultural practice." (For a more complete description of forced molting, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to UPC requesting our 2-sided fact sheet Starving Poultry for Profit.)

Last summer, UPC and the AVAR wrote letters to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) asking them to change their current position, which endorses forced molting as "an acceptable management practice, when done under careful supervision and control." We asked the AVMA to review their position at their November 1997 Animal Welfare Committee meeting and to adopt a policy completely opposing the practice.

The AVMA Animal Welfare Committee Meeting

Disappointingly, the Committee did not vote to revise the current AVMA position statement which endorses forced molting but, instead, focused its attention on the number of days that could be deemed "acceptable" to deprive an animal of food.


United Poultry Concerns would like to thank everyone who signed and circulated the Petition to Stop the Forced Molting of Laying Hens. We are pleased to have received over a thousand signatures thus far. United Poultry Concerns and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights will be mailing photocopies of each petition to the two major egg industry trade groups, United Egg Producers and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, in January. Please continue to circulate the Petition. All signed Petitions will be sent to the trade groups as we receive them. Thank you!

What Can I Do?

  • The American Veterinary Medical Association Animal Welfare Committee meets again in April 1998. Please write a brief letter urging the AVMA to oppose forced molting altogether and request a written reply. Tell the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee to stand up for the birds instead of an industry that profits from their misery. Please do not be persuaded that forced molting is "a rest for the hen's own good." Forced molting is a commercially-motivated practice. The only "good" is profit: whatever can be squeezed from the hen, minus expenses, such as feeding. Contact:

    American Veterinary Medical Association:
    Attention: Dr. David Granstrom
    1931 North Meacham Road, Suite 100
    Schaumburg, Il 60173