No Animal Left Behind: what do rabbits really experience on factory farms across the EU? Revealing investigations tell their stories
It’s no secret that life in a cage is barely a life at all - yet it’s something that many animals across Europe are subjected to, including rabbits. Recent investigations by our members Essere Animali, Otwarte Klatki and AnimaNaturalis, as well as the French animal NGO L214, dive into the experiences of caged rabbits and highlight why a cage-free future for these innocent beings is the only acceptable way forward.
Across Europe, rabbits aren’t getting the opportunity to exercise any of their natural behaviours or rest, and socialise. They have little to no forms of entertainment, and suffer mentally, emotionally, and physically each day of their lives.
Why? Because their lives on factory farms are limited to the extreme, especially as they are forced to spend them in tiny cages.
This cannot go on. Beyond ensuring that cages are phased out across Europe in a timely and efficient way, the European Commission must make robust changes to the animal welfare legislation in their upcoming revision, and specifically factor in rules for rabbits that consider their unique needs and natures.
Helping to show the scale of the problems caged rabbits face in Europe, here are some of the most revealing investigations that dive into their everyday lives - emphasising why EU-wide laws to protect their welfare are urgent.
Essere Animali: Rabbits in cages in Italy
Filmed between September 2021 and April 2022, this footage by Essere Animali captures the conditions of caged rabbits on farms based in Veneto (where over 40% of Italian rabbits are farmed), Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, Italy.
Among other things, their video shows:
- Rabbits dead inside their cages and living in gloomy, boring and depressing conditions
- Rabbits with head, leg and ear injuries caused by their extreme confinement
- Rabbits not being able to express their natures and so performing unusual behaviours instead (like biting the wire and circling their cages)
Essere Animali used their investigation to express to the Italian government why it’s critical for them to back the ‘End The Cage Age’ movement and support higher welfare standards for farmed rabbits - especially considering the size of the industry in the country, where roughly 20 million rabbits are reared in cages.
AnimaNaturalis: Rabbits in cages in Spain
Over in Spain, rabbits are suffering in monumental numbers. Spain is the largest European producer of rabbits, where millions of them are living behind bars - and as AnimaNaturalis’ investigation shows, their lives are full of problems. They reveal:
- Rabbits crowded together and living on uncomfortable wire flooring
- Rabbits having no access to enrichment, and less space than the size of an A4 sheet of paper to move around in
- Limitations on their natural behaviours like running, jumping or gnawing.
Not only are these rabbits clearly in pain from living in cages, their lifestyles on factory farms in general also cause them great misery. Breeding mothers are artificially inseminated and are pregnant 8.5 times/year in these systems. They are then slaughtered - despite the fact their life expectancy could be up to 12 years.
Otwarte Klatki: Rabbits in cages in Poland
As Otwarte Klatki’s investigative images convey, rabbits in Poland aren’t doing any better than those on factory farms elsewhere in Europe.
Confined to tiny cages, the rabbits in these depressing systems often have very short lifespans - dying much too prematurely after having lives full of boredom, frustration and stress.
Could you handle such a limited existence?
L214: Rabbits in cages in France
French NGO, L214, has done numerous investigations over the years exploring the awful conditions rabbits are subjected to on factory farms.
In one of their most recent investigations, they took a look at a factory farm belonging to the president of the National Federation of Rabbit Producer Groups - and what they found there was awful.
Rabbits were found to:
- Have serious injuries on their legs, ears and eyes, as well as infected wounds
- Be in various stages of physical and emotional distress - baby rabbits were often found dying after being attacked by their frustrated mothers
- Living in disgusting and unhygienic conditions, with dead rabbits everywhere
As if having no access to the outside and living in such cramped quarters wasn’t enough, their daily lives are nothing short of traumatising. It’s impossible to imagine their situation continuing this way.
Everywhere in Europe, caged rabbits are miserable, injured and stressed
The horrors rabbits experience in cages aren’t isolated to one country. They’re happening everywhere. It’s hugely important the European Commission recognises the welfare of rabbits is an EU-wide issue which EU-wide legislation must address.
Like every other sentient being, rabbits - along with all other farm animals - deserve to live full and happy lives, where they have access to things to do, are able to socialise, rest and exercise in the manner they like, can be outdoors, and are protected by much better welfare laws in general.