Humane Society International has launched a confidential whistleblower program in India to allow concerned citizens to anonymously report the practice of starving hens to induce molting. The program was launched after the Animal Welfare Board of India directed all poultry farms in the country to immediately discontinue starvation force molt regimes, stating that the practice is in violation of India’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and a punishable offence.
HSI says that starvation force molting, widely practiced in egg production facilities throughout India, deprives egg-laying hens of food for up to 14 days and may be combined with one or two days of water deprivation to rejuvenate their reproductive tracts and stimulate additional cycles of egg production.
It continues that during forced molts, hens suffer greatly and may lose up to 35% of their body weight. Additionally, the HSI says, starvation force molting dramatically increases the risk of hens laying Salmonella-infected eggs.
Manager of HSI’s factory farming campaign, N G Jayasmimha, said, “Once HSI receives a report about starvation molting on a particular farm, we will work with the state animal husbandry department, SPCA, the Animal Welfare Board of India and the state animal welfare board to investigate the matter.”