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History, changing scenarios and future strategies to induce moulting in laying hens

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 May 2008

School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, United Kingdom
School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, United Kingdom
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Moulting is a natural phenomenon in birds during which they replace old plumage with new feathers, reduce feed intake, lose body weight and suspend reproduction. Moulting in laying hens can be induced by using photoperiods, feed deprivation or restriction or diets containing minerals or variable amounts of other ingredients. Induced moulting can result in higher egg production and improved quality. It reduces mortality, production costs and investments in new farms and hatcheries. While feed withdrawal has been a most effective way to induce moult in poultry birds, it is illegal on welfare grounds in the UK and Europe. This may have implications for the global poultry industry. Therefore, efforts to find a non feed removal method as a desirable alternative to induce moulting in poultry birds are underway in different countries. This paper reviews the history of induced moulting and its future implications by examining different methods that have been tested in the past and their potential to become a more acceptable alternative to feed removal method of inducing moulting in laying hens.

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Copyright © World's Poultry Science Association 2008

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