Search icon

Monumental success for Europe’s farmed rabbits

News Section Icon Published 14/03/2017


Today marks an incredibly positive step forward for Europe’s farmed rabbits. MEPs have voted in favour of species-specific legislation in today’s plenary vote.

A recent You Gov poll* showed that 78% of UK adults would support European-wide legislation to phase out the use of cages in rabbits farmed for meat, and the views of MEPs appear to be in line with members of the public.

Celebrating a double victory

In January, members of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee voted in favour of a report that set out key improvements for rabbit welfare. This report had the potential to pave the way for the protection of over 320 million** farmed rabbits across the EU. However, the amendment that included species-specific legislation for rabbits did not pass at that stage.

We are delighted to share the news that MEPs voted in favour of the report. The report calls for the phasing out of cages and will secure the protection and improvement of rabbits farmed for meat. Furthermore, we are happy to report that the amendment calling for species-specific legislation was also voted for.

A long time coming

Currently over 99% of rabbits farmed for meat in the EU spend their lives confined in tiny, barren cages, unable to express their natural behaviours. This report offers the biggest opportunity for securing species-specific legislation for farm animals in over a decade. All eyes now turn to the Commission to safeguard the welfare of farmed rabbits through potential new laws that will help to End the Cage Age for rabbits across the EU.

This vote is a culmination of years of campaigning for rabbits. In 2012 and 2014, we exposed their terrible plight through undercover investigations, achieving mass media coverage and helping to raise awareness of this cruel trade.

Last May we presented our 600,000 signature-strong petition to Europe’s Agriculture Ministers. It was also addressed to MEPs, calling for an end to the farming of rabbits in cages. We also asked children throughout the EU to send in rabbit drawings of how they believe rabbits should be kept, delivering these to the 751 MEPs prior to today’s vote.

Most recently, in the run up to the vote, billboards were placed across Brussels, calling on MEPs to End the Cage Age for rabbits.

Emma Slawinski, our Director of Campaigns, said: “Today’s positive outcome was the culmination of years of campaigning by our supporters and staff.

“Our supporters have been amazing on this issue: they have emailed, called, tweeted, donated and even got their children to draw pictures to make their feelings clear. We cannot thank them enough!

“I am also incredibly proud of our Campaigns Team across Europe, who have worked so hard to help secure this vote.

"This is the beginning of the end of factory farming!"

A great day for Europe’s rabbits

Our CEO, Philip Lymbery, commented on the news: “What a fantastic day for Europe’s rabbits.

“Rabbits are ‘factory farming’s best kept secret’, yet hundreds of millions are farmed in cages across Europe. This crucial species-specific legislation and the specialised rabbit welfare report will mean their well-being can no longer be ignored.”

If you’d like to know more about rabbits and their welfare click here to read more.

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2105 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th - 8th March 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

**Estimated FAOSTAT figures for 2010-13


You are using an outdated browser which we do not support. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).