India has banned the use of starvation to force egg laying hens into a molt phase prompting praise from the Humane Society International.
Starvation force molting, widely practiced on egg production facilities throughout India, deprives egg laying hens of food in order to rejuvenate their reproductive tracts and stimulate additional cycles of egg production.
This week, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) ordered all poultry farms in India to immediately discontinue starvation force molting regimes, stating that the practice is in violation of India’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and a punishable offence. AWBI has directed local animal welfare organisations to work alongside law enforcement to ensure the ban is implemented.
Under starvation force molting regimes, food could be withheld for up to 14 days and water deprived for 1-2 days inciting suffering on the hen and a loss in body weight up to 35%. This practice of food withdrawal has been widely questioned throughout the world and is already prohibited in Australia and the European Union, and prohibited in the United States by the egg industry’s animal husbandry program.
“Starving hens for weeks on end is nothing less than animal cruelty and has no place in modern agricultural practices,” said N.G. Jayasimha, manager of HSI’s factory farming campaign in India. “By banning starvation force molting, the AWBI is taking an important step toward protecting farm animals.”