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September 13, 2011

Government of West Bengal Directs Egg Producers to Discontinue Starvation Force Molting of Laying Hens

Humane Society International/India

KOLKATA, India—The government of West Bengal has joined the 22 other Indian states that have directed local egg producers to cease starvation force molting of laying hens. The Director of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services for the Government of West Bengal has requested the directorate’s officials to ensure that the state's egg producers comply with the Animal Welfare Board of India's order to immediately discontinue starvation force molting regimes.

In March, the Animal Welfare Board of India confirmed that starvation force molting is a punishable offence under India's Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, and ordered all egg production facilities to immediately discontinue the practice.

“We are grateful to the Government of West Bengal and we certainly expect that egg laying farms will comply with this order," said N.G. Jayasimha, manager of HSI's factory farming campaign in India. “Egg producers who continue to starve birds to induce molt must be prosecuted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.”

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

Copies of the directorate’s order are available on request.

Facts:

  • 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.
  • 23 states including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh followed up with plans to implement the order, or to confirm that the practice is not used in their state.
  • The order against starvation force molting comes 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 is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, one of the world's largest animal protection organizations—backed by 11 million people. HSI is creating a better future for animals and people through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—On the Web at hsi.org.

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