In a new Europe-wide poll of cage-free farming by leading farm animal welfare charity, Compassion in World Farming, the UK has emerged in eighth place, with just 63% of UK animals reared in cage-free conditions. The data collected represents cage use in each of the 27 EU Member States, along with the UK.
Whilst some EU countries such as Sweden and Austria score higher than others, in reality, this means hundreds of thousands of animals are still suffering from confinement and, sadly, no Member States are 100% cage-free. Disappointingly, countries including Italy, France, Spain and Poland – key players in the EU animal agricultural sector – rank at the bottom of the table.
Over 300 million pigs, hens, rabbits, ducks, quail and calves are imprisoned in cages across the EU. In the UK, there are 16,661,696 animals in cages. Most of these cages are barren, cramped, and deny the animals space to move freely.
In 2018, Compassion led a broad-based coalition of 170 environmental, consumer rights and animal protection groups from across Europe, to launch the End the Cage Age European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). Last September, the ECI closed, having gained over 1.5 million signatures from individuals calling for an end the use of cages for farm animals across the continent. This was the biggest political push for farmed animal welfare in European history.
Such a huge wave of support for the campaign proves that a future free from cages is a priority for EU citizens from every part of the continent and should therefore be a priority for EU Institutions and national Governments.
“EU Citizens have made it clear – they want a continent that is free from cages. But the fight continues,” said Mandy Carter, Compassion in World Farming’s Global Senior Campaigns Manager. “To convince the European Commission that the future of Europe is cage-free, we need the support of the UK Government and key decision makers.
“The UK’s score of 63% is simply not good enough. Until all EU countries are 100% cage-free, animals will continue to suffer. It’s time we evolved past such cruelty, it’s time to end the cage age.”