Equalia publishes stark images of laying hens kept in cage systems


Equalia publishes stark images of laying hens kept in cage systems

7 October 2021
The NGO's investigative report delves into the debate on the use of cages in egg production, with images showing hens in conditions that are in breach of European and Spanish regulations.

Coinciding with World Egg Day, Equalia's new investigative report exposes a laying hen farm in Castilla La Mancha that uses the cage system. You can see plucked hens, due to the damage caused by overcrowding in the cages, or corpses coexisting with live hens, among other findings. 

These facts are common to a production system on which the Federation of European Veterinarians has expressed the need for a critical review of the cages, as they hinder the expression of the inherent behaviour of laying hens. 

On the other hand, regarding the lifelong overcrowding in cages, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that cages are neither a safe nor a sustainable production system, as they carry risks in terms of food safety and human health. EFSA concluded that the high density of caged poultry leads to the prevalence, persistence and development of salmonella compared to floor-housed poultry. 

In addition to these images, which are common in the cage system, the report also explicitly captures pests such as rats walking among the birds, and mites growing in eggs intended for human consumption. Equalia's legal department considers that the content of the images allegedly constitutes serious crimes of animal abuse and public health, and has therefore filed the corresponding complaint against the farm. 

Eurogroup for Animals, together with its 81 members across Europe, is calling on the European Commission to commit to ambitiously revise animal welfare laws. The No Animal Left Behind campaign sheds light on the flaws of the current legislation and underlines the urgency for European animal welfare laws to actively promote a positive state of health and wellbeing. 

Consumers have been expressing their rejection of this type of practice for years. The latest, at European Union level, is noteworthy the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) End The Cage Age, in which Equalia collaborated with more than 170 organisations. This ECI won the support of 1.4 million people and a majority vote in the European Parliament, in favour of banning cages, not only for hens, but also for pigs, calves, rabbits, broiler breeders, quails, ducks, ganders and geese.

The European Commission should seize the opportunity to provide better animal welfare standards. It is time to act and commit to an ambitious review of animal welfare legislation, making sure that no animal is left behind in the process
Julia Elizalde, Equalia's Corporate Campaigns Coordinator