By Lisa Yount

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Once a year the hens are forced to begin molting, or dropping their feathers, usually by being deprived of food, water, and sometimes light for several days. Molting, during which the hens do not lay eggs, is a natural part of the birds’ yearly cycle. The purpose of forcing it is to make all the hens molt at once and make the process last as short a time as possible so that its effect on egg production is minimized. Kept on this schedule and bred for high production volume, battery hens may lay 280 or more eggs a year, as opposed to the 12 to 20 eggs that hens would lay during the same period in their natural state.

The first law, the Twenty-eight-Hour Act, governs shipping of live animals to feedlots and slaughterhouses. It grew out of the fact that in the late 19th century, when shipping livestock by railroad for long distances first became common, cattle, sheep, and pigs were jammed together into boxcars and sent on journeys of three to six days, usually without food, water, or bedding. Not surprisingly, by the time they arrived at slaughterhouses, 30 to 40 percent of these animals were already dead, and most of the others were in poor condition.

The issue of animal use in science continues to produce confrontational rhetoric on both sides. The more extreme animal rightists maintain that the use of animals in science, like every other human use of animals, is simply wrong, no matter how great its potential benefit for humans. 74 Not surprisingly, statements such as Newkirk’s produce equally intransigent reactions from some scientists. For instance, Frederick Goodwin, a former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, has said that attempting to compromise with animal rightists is a mistake because they see doing so as an admission of guilt.

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