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June 20, 2011

HSI Launches Whistleblower Program to Report Starvation of Hens to Induce Molt

Humane Society International/India

NEW DELHI (20 June  2011)—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 of 1960, and a punishable offence.

HSI urges anyone with information about a farm inducing molting by starvation to email this confidential drop box: starvinghens@hsi.org

Whistleblowers might include farm workers, service providers, SPCA members or representatives of other animal welfare organizations authorized to conduct investigations into animal cruelty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, or any others who witness the cruelty while on the farm legally.

“Factory farms are extremely secretive about their activities and it is extremely difficult to get information about what is really happening inside,” said N.G. Jayasimha, manager of HSI’s factory farming campaign in India. “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.”

HSI is working with policymakers, the poultry industry and animal husbandry departments to advocate for stronger legal protection for farm animals and effective enforcement of existing laws.


  • Starvation force molting, widely practiced on egg production facilities throughout India, deprives egg-laying hens of food for up to 14 days and may be combined with one to two days of water deprivation, in order to manipulate their egg laying cycle.
  • During a forced 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 prohibited in Australia, the European Union, and the United States, under the American egg industry's animal husbandry program.
  • Starvation force molting dramatically increases the risk of hens' laying salmonella-infected eggs.
  • The Committee to Monitor Animal Welfare Laws in Maharashtra has directed Maharashtra’s Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development & Fisheries to ensure that all egg producers and integrators discontinue starvation force molting.
  • The Joint Secretary of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Government of Karnataka, has directed all egg producers in the state to discontinue starvation force molting.
  • The orders against starvation force molting come on the heels of a growing movement against battery cage egg production and farm animal cruelty. 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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