Contrasting resolutions on induced molting came before the House of Delegates this year—Resolution 6 from the poultry industry and Resolution 7 from the animal rights veterinarians. After discussion from the floor, the HOD approved Resolution 6 and subsequently disapproved Resolution 7.
The successful Resolution 6, submitted by the American Association of Avian Pathologists and the Association of Avian Veterinarians, promotes AVMA support of carefully managed induced molting practices. It calls for further research into ways to improve the method and recommends alternative diets instead of the withholding of food from the birds.
The new AVMA position states:
Molting is a natural seasonal event in which birds substantially reduce their feed intake, cease egg production, and replace their plumage. Induced molting is a process that simulates the natural molting events. Induced molting extends the productive life of commercial chicken flocks, improves long-term flock health and performance, and results in substantial reduction in the number of chickens needed to produce the nation's egg supply. When birds return to full feed, a new plumage develops and the birds resume egg production at a higher rate with better egg quality. Induced molting also has a positive impact on the environment through reduction of waste and natural resources needed for growing more birds for egg production.
The commercial induced molting procedure is carefully monitored and controlled. Acceptable practices include reduction of photoperiod and "day length" dietary restrictions that result in cessation of egg production, but water should not be withdrawn. Intermittent feeding or diets of low nutrient density are recommended rather than total feed withdrawal. Special attention should be paid to flock health, mortality, and bird weight. Egg quality and safety should be monitored through an egg quality assurance program. The welfare of the bids should be a major consideration in this and any management practice.
The AVMA encourages ongoing research into the effect of various methods of induced molting on the performance and well-being of laying chickens.
Resolution 7, submitted by petition and initiated by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, opposed the practice of withholding food and water as inhumane and questioned the effect of induced molting on the bird's health.
Even though the HOD's sentiments were in favor of the AAAP/AAV resolution, two delegates expressed respect for AVAR's contributions to advancing the issue. One was Tennessee delegate, Dr. Mildred Bass. "I appreciate those in our profession—and I emphasize, those in our profession—who come from time to time as a burr under our saddle."