Nonwithdrawal molting programs

K. W. Koelkebeck, C. M. Parsons, P. Biggs, P. Utterback

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the commercial egg industry the management practice of using feed withdrawal to induce a flock to molt has been under extreme scrutiny. This is because animal rights groups have voiced their concern about using this practice. Thus, about 5 yr ago, the United Egg Producers (UEP) commissioned 5 universities to conduct experiments to develop alternative molting programs that used nonwithdrawal feeding programs to molt laying hens. The studies conducted to date used techniques ranging from feeding hens without added salt in the diet to using readily available, low-cost feed ingredients to develop molt diets that are low in energy level and protein content. The results of these studies indicated that molting laying hens without feed withdrawal could be done successfully. Research at the University of Illinois found that feeding laying hens diets consisting of wheat middlings, soybean hulls, and corn (low protein and low energy) were successful in providing for acceptable postmolt egg production performance and economic benefit compared with using a standard feed withdrawal method. Therefore, after 5 yr of experimenting with nonwithdrawal molting methods done in several university settings, the egg industry has successfully adopted these methods of molting laying hens. In addition, based on the finding of these experiments, the UEP has revised their recommended molting guidelines to state that only nonwithdrawal molting methods will be permitted after January 1, 2006. Thus, these guidelines will apply to approximately 82% of the US egg industry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-491
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Poultry Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006


  • Induced molting
  • Laying hen
  • Nonwithdrawal molt diet
  • Soybean hulls
  • Wheat middlings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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