Ten respondents indicated that they had reduced the number of flocks which were molted representing 6.1 million hens. One company with 1.1 million hens has ceased molting. These changes effectively reduced the molted hens in the sample of 55 percent of the total U.S flock by 7.2 million. Statistics assembled by the USDA document a decline in the proportion of molted hens in the population from 23.8 percent in mid 2007 to 21.5 percent in mid-2008. The differential of 2.3 percent is equivalent to 6.5 million hens which corresponds to the projections derived from the UEP Survey.
Reducing the number of molted hens effectively means that more chicks and hence 16- week old pullets are required to maintain the hen population. The placements recorded by USDA exceed the quantity which would be used to balance the increase in single cycle programs suggesting expansion, as predicted by the University of California, Riverside in the July 2008 projection circulated by Don Bell. The National Flock Study currently being processed by Don Bell indicates that contribution from single cycle flocks is higher than from molted flocks when egg prices are high, irrespective of feed prices, within the range of five incremental levels for each of the two parameters evaluated.