Ministries clash over forced molting of chickens
By SHARON UDASIN
Agriculture Ministry calls for practice of starving hens for increased egg output to continue for 4 more years.
Contrary to a July government ruling calling for an end to the practice of
starving hens for increased egg output by January, the Agriculture Ministry has
called for the ritual to continue for four more years, the Environmental
Protection Ministry said Monday.
While current regulation allows for
farmers to starve hens for up to two weeks in order to increase their egg
productivity, the government had unequivocally determined that by January there
would be a ban on this “forced molting” system, according to the Environment
Ministry. In doing so, the government demanded that a team led by the
Agriculture Ministry submit recommendations for the implementation of this
Instead, however, the team submitted the plan for continuing the
practice for four more years, which would lead to approximately 7 million more
chickens suffering from the practice and many even dying from it, the
Environment Ministry said.
“There is no reason that Israel should
continue to be cruel to animals unnecessarily, under the protection of the
government and in order to make profits,” said Environmental Protection Minister
While undergoing the forced molting process, the hens starve
for between 10 days and two weeks and typically lose their feathers, according
to the Environment Ministry. Meanwhile, in addition to enduring the starvation
period, the hens also are held in complete darkness for no less than 35
Environment Ministry director-general Alona Shefer-Karo has sent a
letter to Agriculture Ministry director-general Yossi Yishai, charging the
office with submitting flawed recommendations. Despite the fact that an
Environment Ministry representative was on the recommendations team, the office
said the Agriculture Ministry refused to review any Environment Ministry
In response, the Agriculture Ministry stressed that the
recommendations team consisted of representatives from the Agriculture Ministry,
the Finance Ministry and the Environment Protection Ministry.
the Environment Ministry position was in the minority among team members, it was
included in the resultant report, and not only the first alternative for
allowing the practice four more years was printed, according to the Agriculture
The team members came to an understanding that there needed to
be a gradual implementation of the forced molting ban, and decided that an
immediate transition on January 1 would be problematic for the consumer. With
the cessation of the practice, the industry will need to double its egg
production each year, the ministry said.
While the team members stressed
that animal welfare was crucial, so too would be the stability and continuity of
the basic food supply of eggs.
“The team’s proposal provides a feasible
solution for the hens and the consumers, while the minority position would bring
a real shortage of eggs,” the Agriculture Ministry said.
Ministry likewise accused the Environment Ministry of “imposing its minority
opinion on all other government ministries by means of corrupt communications,”
even though team discussions occurred democratically and transparently, and
included the minority position in the report.
The organization Anonymous
for Animal Rights stressed its dissatisfaction with the extension of the
practice. By eliminating forced molting, the price of each egg would only rise
by approximately 2 agorot, the organization said, quoting data an Agriculture
Ministry extensive service for poultry farmers.
Meanwhile, a higher
incidence of salmonella occurs among chickens who partake in the starvation
practice, according to Anonymous.
“As usual, the Agriculture Ministry
repeatedly proves that although it is in charge of implementing the Animal
Welfare Law, it is the body that already leads for 18 years the struggle against
its application,” a statement from Anonymous said.