Up to 700 million farm animals, including hens, quails, rabbits, sows and ducks, are confined in cages on EU farms each year.
Many of them are kept this way for all or most of their lives. Caged animals are severely restricted in their movements and prevented from performing their natural behaviours, with detrimental effects on their health and welfare.
An investigation by Animal Equality in 2019 in Italy showed hundreds of the country’s 500,000 sows forced to live in metal cages for half their lives. The cages completely enclose their bodies, preventing them from walking or turning around, and making it impossible to properly care for their piglets. In such a tight space all they can do is stand or lie down, and they are surrounded by insects, rats and the bodies of dead piglets.
The same year, L214 revealed the horrible conditions rabbits bred for their meat endure in a farm located in France. Their footage showed the rabbits injured, piled on top of each other and living in spaces only slightly bigger than an A5 piece of paper:tiny cages with a wire grid floor, which often leads to injuries. They are given high doses of antibiotics, vaccines and anti-parasitic drugs, and some die before reaching the slaughter age of two and a half years. EFSA confirmed that conventional cage systems are worse for adult rabbits compared to other systems, due to the inability to express gnawing behaviour as well as positive social interactions, but also due to restriction of movement, and resting problems.
Another investigation by L214, showed a hundred thousand quails piled up in cages at a density of more than 80 per square metre in a filthy building. One hundred percent of France’s laying quail are kept this way, as no alternatives exist.
Fur farming also condemns animals to short lives in tiny cages. An Animal Defenders International video from 2017 showed arctic foxes being raised from cubs for fur. Throughout the video, the cubs are kept in a small wire cage until the day of their death.