For the third year in a row, members of the HOD on July 13 rejected a resolution stating the AVMA is opposed to induced molting, a management practice for increasing egg production in laying hens.
Although the fate of Resolution 3—submitted by member petition and supported by the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights—was never in doubt, comments made by delegates during the session and in Reference Committee 5 indicate there is growing support for the AVMA to take a position encouraging development of alternative humane methods to induce molting.
The resolution was similar to last year's, which stated, " ... the AVMA opposes induced or forced molting ... when it causes harm or stress to the birds." The current AVMA position is the practice should be done under close supervision, and under no circumstances should water be withheld from the animals.
Those delegates who spoke about Resolution 3 during deliberations in the reference committee and during the full session took issue with the wording. Dr. D. Glen Esplin, Utah delegate, said induced molting is not clearly defined in the resolution and could apply to other methods of increasing egg production. "The way this resolution is worded, I think it is much too restrictive, and even if I were in favor of doing away with forced molting, I could not support this resolution the way it is worded," he said.
Dr. Peter Theran, Massachusetts delegate, also objected to the language, yet believes that as animal welfare advocates, veterinarians must have reservations about what some see as an inhumane practice. The AVMA should oppose the practice of induced molting, Dr. Theran said, and then help the poultry industry improve its production methods. "I'm not in favor of the wording as it exists here, but I think we have a responsibility to submit a resolution we can approve of and [in which we] identify the problems," he said.
Dr. Susan L. Clubb, Association of Avian Veterinarians delegate, said evidence has shown that induced molting can increase life expectancy in flocks. As written, the resolution would prevent alternative methods to a practice that is of some benefit to the birds, she said.
Dr. Clubb acknowledged that the AAV believes that methods to induce molting can be improved, and she encouraged the AVMA to pressure the industry to increase research and review of the practice. She added that the AAV and the American Association of Avian Pathologists are working together on a resolution about this issue that might be submitted next year.