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March 10, 2011

HSI Lauds India Ban of Starvation Force Molting of Laying Hens

Humane Society International/India

  • Making strides for animals in India. HSI

New Delhi (March 10, 2011)—Humane Society International praised the Animal Welfare Board of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India for banning the use of starvation [PDF] to force egg-laying hens into a molt phase. Starvation force molting, widely practiced on egg production facilities throughout India, deprives egg laying hens of food in order to rejuvenate their reproductive tracts and stimulate additional cycles of egg production.

On Wednesday, the AWBI ordered all poultry farms in India to immediately discontinue starvation force molting regimes, stating that the practice is in violation of India’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and a punishable offence. AWBI has directed local animal welfare organizations to work alongside law enforcement to ensure the ban is implemented.

Under starvation force molting regimes, food is often withheld for up to 14 days and may be combined with 1-2 days of water deprivation. During a force molt, hens suffer greatly and may lose up to 35 percent of their body weight. 

This practice of food withdrawal has been widely questioned throughout the world and is already prohibited in Australia and the European Union, and prohibited in the United States by the egg industry’s animal husbandry program

“Starving hens for weeks on end is nothing less than animal cruelty and has no place in modern agricultural practices,” said N.G. Jayasimha, manager of HSI’s factory farming campaign in India. “By banning starvation force molting, the AWBI is taking an important step toward protecting farm animals.”


  • Animal Welfare Board of India is a statutory body of Government of India constituted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960. At present, the AWBI is working under the aegis of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.
  • Forced starvation molting dramatically increases the risk of hens' laying salmonella-infected eggs.
  • India’s ban on starvation force molting comes on the heels of a growing movement against battery cage egg production and farm animal cruelty within the country.
  • India’s factory farms confine 140 to 200 million hens in barren battery cages, where each bird lives within a space smaller than a single standard sized sheet of paper.


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Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the Web at hsi.org.

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