Induced Moulting of Poultry – Position Statement

October 12, 2016


(Formerly known as Forced Moulting of Poultry)


The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is opposed to moult induction by methods involving deprivation of food and/or water


  • Older methods of induced moulting involved feed and water deprivation and resulted in high mortality.

    Poultry producers in Canada do not support induced moulting in any form as a routine management practice.

    In critical circumstances induced moulting using non-fasting is sometimes performed under veterinary oversight.


  1. Induced moulting can extend the productive life of late-cycle flocks of commercial egg-laying and breeder hens by stimulating regression and regeneration of the hens’ reproductive tract.
  1. Older methods of induced moulting involved feed and water deprivation which resulted in high mortality (1-3). Methods that involve feed or water deprivation adversely affect the well-being of the birds (4) and increase the shedding of Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis (5,6).
  1. Poultry producers in Canada do not support induced moulting in any form as a routine management practice. However, in critical circumstances (e.g., market interruptions due to a disease outbreak), induced moulting using non-fasting methods that follow current Canadian Codes of Practice for the care and handling of poultry (7-9) is sometimes performed under veterinary oversight.
  1. Induced moulting using non-fasting methods involves reduction of daily energy intake through restriction of feed and modification of light exposure, resulting in marked feather loss and replacement (10-15). Birds in moult and those being prepared for moult have access to drinking water at all times (8).
  1. Very thin or emaciated hens should be culled from the flock before the moulting process begins. Any birds found to be suffering during the moulting process should be removed immediately from the moulting protocol and humanely euthanized.


  1. Fraser D, Mench J, Millman S. Farm animals and their welfare in 2000. In: Salem .DJ Rowan AN, eds. The State of The Animals. Washington, DC: Humane Society Press, 2001:87-99.
  1. Bell DD. Historical and current molting practices in the US table egg industry. Poultry Sci 2003;82:965-970.
  1. Berry WD. The physiology of induced molting. Poultry Sci 2003;82:971-980.
  1. McCowan B, Schrader J, DiLorenzo AM, Cardona C, Klingborg D. Effects of induced molting on the well-being of egg-laying hens. J Appl Anim Wel Sci 2006;9:9-23.
  1. Golden NJ, Marks HH, Coleman ME, Schroeder CM, Bauer NE, Schlosser WD. Review of induced molting by feed removal and contamination of eggs with Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis. Vet Micro 2008;131:215-228.
  1. Ricke SE, Dunkley CS, Durant JA. A review on development of novel strategies for controlling Salmonella Enteritidis colonization in laying hens: Fiber-based molt diets. Poult Sci 2013;92:502-525.
  1. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Chickens, Turkeys and Breeders From Hatchery to Processing Plant, 2003. Chicken Farmers of Canada, 1007-350 Sparks Street, Ottawa (Ontario) K1R 7S8. Available from: Last accessed April 1, 2015.
  1. Fédération des producteurs d’œufs du Québec. Bien-être des poules pondeuses : Cahier de charge, August 2015. 555, boulevard Roland-Therrien, Longueuil (Québec) J4H 4E7. Available in French only from: Last accessed December 2, 2015.
  1. National Farmed Animal Care Council. Available from: Last accessed February 23, 2016.
  1. Patwardhan D, King A. Review: Feed withdrawal and nonfeed withdrawal moult. World’s Poult Sci J 2011;67:253-268.
  1. Koch JM, Lay DC, Jr, McMunn KA, Moritz JS, Wilson ME. Motivation of hens to obtain feed during a molt induced by feed withdrawal, wheat middlings, or melengestrol acetate. Poult Sci 2007;86:614-620.
  1. Bland K, Utterbeck P, Koelkebeck K, Parsons C. Evaluation of feeding various sources of distillers dried grains with solubles in non-feed-withdrawal molt programs for laying hens. Poult Sci 2014;93:1421-1427.
  1. Dickey ER, Bregendhal K, Stalder K, Fitzgerald R, Johnson AK. Effects of a premolt calcium and low-energy molt program on laying hen behavior and heterophil-to-lymphocyte ratios. Poult Sci 2010;89:2317-2315.
  1. Kahn RU, Nikousefat Z, Javdani M, Tufarelli V, Laudadio V. Zinc-induced moulting: Production and physiology. World’s Poult Sci J 2011;67:497-506.

15. Hy-Line International. Available from: Last accessed February 23, 2016.

(Revised July 2016)