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Cage farming - a nightmare we can end

Across the world, billions of animals are farmed in cages. That includes pigs, hens, rabbits, ducks, geese and quail – many of whom endure a lifetime subjected to cage cruelty. In the EU alone, around 300 million farmed animals are confined to cages each year.

Are UK farmed animals kept in cages? Sadly, yes – around 8 million farmed animals are caged each year in the UK. This includes millions of laying hens confined to spaces so small they are unable to stretch their wings or display natural behaviours such as foraging.  And 60% of mother pigs in the UK are confined to barren farrowing crates, preventing them from being able to turn around or nuzzle their young.

What's happening in the EU? 

Despite the overwhelming support from 1.4 million citizens, in autumn 2023 the European Commission backtracked on their promise to end caged farming. In response to this, in 2024 we launched a landmark End the Cage Age legal action against the European Commission to get them to deliver the ban on cages. 

Back in June 2020, hope had soared when the Commission gave its word to put an end to the use of cages for farmed animals. Despite this promise, during a press conference in October 2023, they revealed plans to only address animal transport. This was a far cry from the reforms that were anticipated, and which had the potential to change the lives of 300 million farmed animals annually.

The Commission’s own Eurobarometer survey in October 2023 had revealed that an overwhelming 9 out of ten (89%) EU citizens – around 400 million people – believe animals should not be farmed in individual cages. Yet, it appears President von der Leyen caved in to pressure from the agriculture lobby to put the ban on hold. 

In these trying times, one message remains clear: while the EU Commission may backtrack, our dedication to animal welfare remains. To celebrate Cage Free Day on 11th October, some of team Compassion, alongside other dedicated NGOs, gathered outside the European Commission building in Brussels. We stood united, reminding the Commission of the promise they made to End The Cage Age.

Two people at End the Cage Age protest in Brussels.

Join the fight

For many years, Compassion has campaigned to end the cruellest forms of farming in order to ensure higher welfare standards for all farmed animals. During this time, we have seen progress against cages with EU bans on veal crates and barren battery cages for laying hens, and a partial sow stall ban.

Further good news also came in 2021, when the European Commission announced it would put forward legislation to end the use of cages for farmed animals. This followed the European Citizens’ Initiative to End the Cage Age, which was led by Compassion and signed by almost 1.4 million EU citizens.

Now, we are keeping up the pressure to ensure an EU ban on cages really is delivered, and to secure an end to caged farming in the UK and around the world.

Hundreds of thousands of compassionate people in Britain have already spoken up for caged farmed animals by signing our petitions.

We need your help to keep up this momentum. Here’s how you can join the fight:

  1. Make a donation to Compassion today
  2. Download our cage-free Communities guide for tips on encouraging convenience stores in your area to go cage-free.



UK veal crate ban comes into force - Compassion supporters campaign relentlessly, and back legal action, to end the cruel caging of vulnerable young calves.


UK sow stall ban comes into force - Pigs in the UK no longer have to spend their pregnancies trapped in cages so small they can barely stand up or lie down.


EU veal crate ban comes into force - The European Union finally follows the UK and ends the suffering caused by trapping calves in crates.


EU battery cage ban for hens comes into force - So called 'enriched' cages for hens are still permitted, but the barren battery cage ban is a major breakthrough on the journey to ending all caged farming.


EU partial sow stall ban comes into force - 13 million sows have their lives greatly improved by the EU ban on sow stalls after the first four weeks of pregnancy. 


Compassion carries out an undercover investigation into rabbit farming in Czech Republic, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Poland. The investigation exposed appalling suffering, with rabbits crammed together in bare cages, unable even to hop.


Compassion carries out an undercover investigation into enriched cages for hens in France, Italy, Cyprus, and Czech Republic - This exposed the continued suffering faced by millions of hens confined in cages.


May: Compassion delivers petition to the EU Agriculture Council in Brussels - Over 600,000 people call for an end to farming rabbits in cages.

May: Compassion releases EU quail investigation. Each year, millions of quail spend their short lives in overcrowded factory farms. Our investigation exposes the shocking truth behind this supposed ‘luxury’ food.

July: A time for hen welfare celebration - All major UK supermarkets have now pledged to stop selling caged eggs by 2025.


Progress for Europe’s rabbits - MEPs vote to secure improved conditions for Europe’s 330 million farmed rabbits.


Europeans Citizens’ Initiative - Compassion and 130 other organisations join forces to launch the Europeans Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) to End the Cage Age.


March: Joanna Lumley, Deborah Meaden and other famous faces back our Campaign to End the Cage Age. We release the film, Dear Humans’ which is based on a short, powerful and thought provoking address from Britain’s caged farmed animals to the UK public. Dear Humans went on to win the People’s Choice Award at the Charity Film Awards.

May: End the Cage Age petition gains over 100,000 signatures - Compassion-led parliamentary petition, calling on the Government to End the Cage Age, petition reaches the 100K signature mark in just a few months, meaning Parliament must consider this issue for a debate.

July: Compassion carries out investigation into UK pig farming. This undercover film revealed the horrendous conditions many mother sows have to endure in UK factory farms.


March: End the Cage Age debated in parliament. The Government announces they are examining the future use of cages for all laying hens and reiterates they are committed to the ambition that farrowing crates should no longer be used for sows.

October: European Commission receive End the Cage Age ECI - 1.4 million European citizens call on the EU to end the cruelty of confining farmed animals in cages.


July: European Citizens Initiative to End the Cage Age gets results - The EU Commission agrees to put forward legislation to phase out the use of cages for farmed animals. But our work is far from done.

August: Deborah Meaden launches a new parliamentary petition - Compassion Patron, Deborah Meaden launches a petition calling on the Government to ban the use of all cages for all UK farmed animals, following the European Commission's announcement to introduce legislation that would phase out cages by 2027.


February: Over 100,000 people call for a cage-free future - Having reached over 100k signatures, Parliament must consider allowing time for this issue to be debated.

June: Use of cages for farmed animals debated in Parliament - The Government announced they will bring forward consultations on the use of cages for laying hens and crates for farrowing sows. However, disappointingly no time frame was set.

December: Petition submitted to Defra and the Scottish Government - Almost 400,000 people urge all the governments across the UK to End the Cage.


Fears promised EU cage ban will be dropped. Commission President strongly indicates that the European Commission is shelving its unprecedented commitment to ban caged farming.

The Commission was at the point of publishing its legislative proposals for the ban in autumn last year when it appears President von der Leyen caved in to pressure from the agriculture lobby to put the ban on hold. 


In March, the Citizen’s Committee of the End the Cage Age European Citizens Initiative launched an End the Cage legal action against the European Commission over its failure to deliver its commitment to ban caged farming.

This legal action is the first to hold the Commission to account over its failure to act on an ECI. If successful, it would be compelled by the Court to publish its proposals within a clear and reasonable timescale and to grant access to its file on the End the Cage Age ECI.

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