For a fifth consecutive year, delegates on July 19 voted down a resolution declaring the AVMA to be opposed to inducing laying hens to molt.
Induced molting is a husbandry practice that brings laying hens into a nonlaying and oviduct rejuvenation period, usually through feed restriction and reduced photoperiod.
At last year's HOD session in Nashville, delegates approved a resolution reaffirming the AVMA position on induced molting while "encourag[ing] ongoing research into the effect of various methods of induced molting on the performance and well-being of laying chickens."
This year, Resolution 1 was submitted by petition for delegates' consideration. Because feed is withheld from the hens, the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights and other animal rights and protection groups claim induced molting is an inhumane practice that the AVMA should no longer support.
During deliberations, Dr. Michael S. Garvey, American Association of Veterinary Clinicians delegate, expressed the opinion of the majority when he said, "This organization needs to vote on issues according to facts and science."
Relatedly, AABP alternate delegate Dr. James A. Jarrett claimed animal rights groups are attacking animal agriculture with half-truths and innuendo. The HOD, Dr. Jarrett said, is filled with experts in all aspects of veterinary medicine and, on the matter of induced molting, delegates should listen to the poultry veterinarians.
Dr. Walter C. Robinson, South Carolina delegate, criticized Resolution 1 for not taking into consideration the financial costs to the laying hen industry if induced molting were to end.
Still, others weren't comfortable with the feed restrictions. Dr. Susan Clubb, Association of Avian Veterinarians alternate delegate, said that, while she believes the resolution passed last year adequately addresses induced molting, she nevertheless believes the AVMA should work with the poultry industry to find alternatives to the practice of withdrawing feed.
Several members on Reference Committee 2, of which Dr. Clubb is a member, felt likewise. The committee recommended that the HOD refer Resolution 1 to the Animal Welfare Committee with input from the Judicial Council and the Council on Veterinary Service. Specifically, committee members wanted guidance on the phrase "intermittent feeding" in the resolution adopted last year. They felt it too vague and subject to liberal interpretation.
Not all delegates agreed with the AVMA's stance, however. Nebraska delegate Dr. Theodore Evans Jr. discussed how other animal species used for food don't have feed withdrawn to increase production. In July, the Canadian VMA passed a resolution opposing molting methods that involve food and water deprivation, he noted.
"We should decide whether the AVMA is for animal welfare or for dollars and cents," Dr. Evans said.
Delegates ultimately voted against Reference Committee 2's referral recommendation and disapproved Resolution 1. The Executive Board and House Advisory Committee had also recommended disapproval.