Induced Moulting of Poultry
March 26, 2021
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is opposed to moult induction by methods involving deprivation of food and/or water and recommends that induced moulting only be used in response to unforeseen emergency situations.
- Although practiced in other jurisdictions, induced moulting of poultry is not routinely practiced in Canada, and is only considered for emergency response activity
- Veterinarians and poultry producers in Canada do not support induced moulting in any form as a routine management practice because of the risk of negative impact on animal welfare.
- In critical circumstances induced moulting using non-fasting is sometimes performed under veterinarian and poultry nutritionist oversight. This method of molting provides continuous feed for the birds, allowing them to eat ad libitum.
- 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. This can be achieved by fasting: reducing nutrient availability and restricting access to water for a protracted period. Induced moulting is considered to be an unacceptable routine practice in Canada.
- Veterinarians and poultry producers in Canada do not support induced moulting as a routine management practice. In emergency circumstances that threaten Canadian egg supply (e.g., wide scale market interruptions or a disease outbreak), induced moulting using non-fasting methods that follow current Canadian Codes of Practice (1-2) may be performed under veterinarian and nutritionist oversight.
- When necessary, induced moulting using non-fasting methods involves reduction of daily energy intake through restriction of nutrients (3) while providing constant access to low nutrient density feed and modification of light exposure, resulting in marked feather loss and replacement (4-6). In Canada, birds in moult and those being prepared for moult have access to drinking water at all times (1).
- Induced moulting should only be performed on healthy hens. 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.
- National Farmed Animal Care Council. Code of Practice for the Care of Handling of Pullets and Laying Hens (2017). Available from: https://www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice/pullets-and-laying-hens. Last accessed October 28th, 2020.
- National Farmed Animal Care Council. Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Hatching Eggs, Breeders, Chickens and Turkeys (2016). Available from: https://www.nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice/chickens-turkeys-and-breeders. Last accessed October 28th, 2020.
- Biggs PE, Persia ME, Koelkebeck KW, Parsons CM. Further Evaluation of Nonfeed Removal Methods for Molting Programs. Poultry Sci 2004;83:745–752. Available from: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_url?url=https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0032579119444167/pdf%3Fmd5%3D9bd692f2b69b8755c8006699a79f4660%26pid%3D1-s2.0-S0032579119444167-main.pdf&hl=en&sa=T&oi=ucasa&ct=ufr&ei=9bqZX7SuB47QyQSynZX4CQ&scisig=AAGBfm1wHBTVwnpoovHapZ3bIlVOkshOEg. Last accessed October 28th, 2020.
- 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(6):1421-1427. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0032579119323156?via%3Dihub. Last accessed October 28th, 2020.
- Patwardhan D, King A. Review: Feed withdrawal and nonfeed withdrawal moult. World’s Poult Sci J 2011;67:253-268.
- Berry WD. The physiology of induced molting. Poultry Sci 2003;82:971-980. Available from: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_url?url=https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0032579119438492/pdf%3Fmd5%3Dccc6798a80a7cb096d6f3b395d0fe89d%26pid%3D1-s2.0-S0032579119438492-main.pdf&hl=en&sa=T&oi=ucasa&ct=ufr&ei=aL2ZX9G1DMS9yQTMgr_QBg&scisig=AAGBfm2s0Y0bPG5R8B6pOdHGRKu7t716uw. Last accessed October 28th, 2020.