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Exposed: Life for millions of dairy calves across the EU

News Section Icon Published 22/07/2019

Our new undercover investigation released today (22 July) exposes the grim reality for millions of dairy calves across the EU. Separated from their mothers shortly after birth and confined in small, individual pens, these dairy calves are deprived of their natural behaviours and social interaction.

Please note: this film contains scenes that you may find distressing.

Confined, deprived and isolated

The investigation film - which contains new footage obtained from five Polish dairy farms as well as footage from other EU countries (Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic and Denmark) - exposes further welfare concerns; hungry calves repeatedly attempting to suckle an investigator’s hand as well as evidence of poor hygiene and inadequate protection from cold temperatures. Additionally, there were incidents of EU law infringement: with calves completely unable to see and touch each other; and calves around three to four months old being kept illegally in pens that were too small for them.

A common practice across the EU

Best estimates suggest that in the European Union as a whole, over 60% of dairy calves – in total over 12 million each year – are similarly restricted during the first few weeks of their lives.

“This investigation reveals the cruel reality for millions of dairy calves in Poland, and across the EU” says Malgorzata Szadkowska, Head of our Polish office. These calves are separated from their mothers hours after birth, and spend their first eight weeks in isolation, away from the comfort and support that close companionship can provide to social animals like them. This is a completely barbaric and unnecessary practice.”

It’s time to End the Cage Age

Our new investigation proves once again what we have documented on multiple occasions: caged systems used in many EU countries, including the UK, are equally cruel.  

Emma Slawinski, our Director of Campaigns and Communications says: “It is hard to comprehend that a vulnerable young calf is kept isolated for weeks. Worse still, EU legislation allows this, despite evidence that alternative practices can provide welfare and health .”

You can join the fight to End the Cage Age. Please take action today.

Join over 1 million people and sign the European Citizens’ Initiative, calling for an end to the cage age in the EU.

Add your name here to call on the UK’s agriculture ministers to ban cages for farm animals.



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