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Row of Caged Mother Pigs in Sow Stalls

Undercover Investigation

End the Cage Age (logo)

Over 8 million sows across Europe spend nearly half of their adult lives, every year, in cages. Compassion investigators went undercover on 16 farms across 4 EU countries to give a voice to these mother pigs. From the ‘conventional’ farms we visited, all the way through to farms supplying to so-called ‘high-quality’ products in Europe like Parma Ham and Bayonne Ham, we found terrible suffering.

The footage reveals that there is very poor welfare when animals are caged. We must End the Cage Age soon.

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In June 2021, the European Commission committed to presenting a legislative proposal to phase out the use of caged farming across Europe. To ensure this vital legislation comes into force as soon as possible, we need the support of EU Member States. Take action and call on EU Agriculture Ministers to End the Cage Age without delay.

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A life imprisoned

A sow is forced to endure nearly half her adult life in a cage, scarcely bigger than her own body. Unable to turn around or carry out many of her natural behaviours, she is subjected to cycle after cycle of reproduction, until her body is no longer able. She is treated as nothing more than a production machine.

Artificial Insemination

Artificial Insemination

Sow Stall

Sow Stall

Birth in a cage

Birth in a cage

Farrowing Crate

Farrowing Crate

Not a life worth living

Unable to move

Unable to move

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Sows are subjected to the most severe restriction of movement of any species farmed for food. She is unable to turn around and struggles even to stand up or lie down.

Treated like breeding machines

Treated like breeding machines

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Sows are re-inseminated as soon as possible – one producer indicated they are brought to the insemination unit immediately after separation from her piglets, just 26 days after giving birth.

Nearly half of their adult lives caged

Nearly half of their adult lives caged

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Over 8 million sows across Europe spend nearly half of their adult lives, each year, in cages. For up to four weeks after becoming pregnant, sows are caged. A week prior to farrowing, sows are confined into a farrowing crate until their piglets are weaned at about 4 weeks later. 

Abnormal behaviours

Abnormal behaviours

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The use of the cages has a devastating impact on the sow. Some repetitively bite the bars which constrict them – thought to be a result of frustration and chronic hunger.

Filthy Conditions

Filthy Conditions

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When able, pigs typically choose to excrete away from their living and eating areas. In cages, this is impossible, and sows are forced to excrete where they lie and then to lie in their own urine and faeces. Not only is this unnatural, but it is a danger to their health.

Painful & Preventable Injuries

Painful & Preventable Injuries

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Severe pressure sores can be caused by prolonged lying on a hard surface.

Birth behind bars

Birth behind bars

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Even in birth, sows are not afforded the dignity of free movement. They give birth in a cage, unable to satisfy their instinct to nurture their babies. They will remain in cages until their piglets are weaned, around 4 weeks later.

Dead & dying piglets

Dead & dying piglets

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In the wild, sows may try to help weak piglets. In a cage, she is often powerless to act.

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Give mother pigs, and caged animals across the European Union, a much-needed voice!

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7. Take Action

Our campaign to stop caged farming

Mother pigs are a heart breaking symbol of the 300 million animals suffering in cages across Europe, like hens, calves, rabbits, quail, ducks and geese.

Over 170 organisations and caring citizens across Europe joined forces to spearhead the End the Cage Age European Citizens’ Initiative.

Hard work spanning the course of 3 years culminated in a major victory and historical decision by the European Commission on June 30, 2021 to revise current EU legislation with a commitment to:

  • Put forward a legislative proposal by the end of 2023 to phase out and finally prohibit the use of cages for hens, mother pigs, calves, rabbits, ducks, geese and other farmed animals
  • Phase out the use of cages for farmed animals across Europe by 2027
  • Ensure that all imported products in the EU comply with future cage-free standards
  • Implement systems for incentives and financial support to European farmers during the transition to cage-free farming

This monumental event marked an overwhelming victory for the 1.4 million EU citizens who made their voices heard and took their struggle to the lawmakers of the European Union.

This made the End the Cage Age ECI the:

  • 6th ECI to succeed among 76 registered initiatives in the last eight years
  • 3rd highest ECI signature count
  • 1st ECI for farmed animal welfare to achieve the required threshold of 1 million signatures
  • 1st ECI for animal welfare that has successfully led to a commitment from the EU Commission to overturn EU legislation and to implement revisions which will take over 300 million animals out of their cruel cages by 2027

Our mission now is to monitor the legislative process and to ensure that the Commission sticks to its word and delivers on its commitments.

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How close are we to a 100% cage-free Europe?

Our ECI, with 1.4 million citizens calling to end the inhumane treatment of farmed animals in cages, is proof that ending the cage age is a priority for Europeans.

To secure an EU-wide ban on cages we must put pressure on each EU Member State to embed a ban into their national law. We built a ‘League Table’ that ranks EU Countries in terms of how far down the legislative road they are in phasing out cages for farmed animals on a national level.

Even if there are some countries with slightly better national legislation than others, the only acceptable percentage, for any country, is 100% cage-free.

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We have created a table ranking Member States based on the percentage of cage-free farmed animals in each country. Check out your country and send a tweet to your Agriculture/Health Minister, asking for their support of the End the Cage Age Initiative.

Below, you can find the links to the table in different languages:

Our network

​The network for the 'End the Cage Age' European Citizens’ Initiative unites organisations under a common banner—to eliminate the use of cages in animal farming.

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We worked together to secure 1.4 million signatures for the European Citizens’ Initiative against cages.

This movement is representative of the 94% of people in Europe who believe protecting the welfare of farm animals is important, and 82% who believe farm animals should be better protected. Cages are a desolate reflection on our society. 

Together we will End the Cage Age.

Image showing logos of all participating organisations

 

Keep in touch

The success of the campaign was down to each and every individual who signed the ECI and the collaboration between the 170 NGOs across Europe. Please contact one of these groups if you’d like to hear more from an organisation that’s based in your country: View the full list of organisations here.

Or sign up to receive emails from Compassion in World Farming about End the Cage Age and other campaigns:

Together we will end the cage age. Forever.

Full list of NGO partners by country


Pan-EU | AT | BE | BG | BU | CY | CZ | DE | DK | EE | EL | ES | FI | FR | HR | IE | IT | LT | LU | LV | NL | PL | PT | RO | SE | SK | SL

Pan-EU:
Arc 2020 | Compassion in World Farming International | Eurogroup | HSI | Slow Food | SumOfUs | Vier Pfoten/Four Paws | WeMove | World Animal Net
Österreich (AT):
animal.fair | Ferkelfroh | Vier Pfoten International
Belgie/Belgien/Belgique (BE):
CIWF EU | DierAnimal | GAIA | Sans collier | Venizi
България (BG):
CAAI | Four Paws Bulgaria | Intimate with the Nature Society (IWNS)
Κύπρος (CY):
Cyprus Voice for Animals
Česká republika (CZ):
Advokátní kancelář Robert Plicka | Hlas zvířat | Home 4 Pets | Nadace na ochranu zvířat | NESEHNUTÍ | OBRAZ! | Platforma pro udržitelný rozvoj a etiku | Slepice v nouzi | Společnost pro zvířata | Svoboda zvířat
Deutschland (DE):
adopTIERE e.V. | Aktion Fairplay | Aktionsbündnis Artgerechtes München | Aktionsgruppe Tierrechte Bayern | Albert Schweitzer Stiftung für unsere Mitwelt | Amelies Lebenshof e.V. | Animal Equality Germany e.V. | ANIMALS UNITED e.V. | AWF (Animal Welfare Foundation) in Germany / Tierschutzbund Zurich TSB | BAG Tierschutzpolitik von BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN | Berlin-Vegan | Besitzerhunde e.V. | Deutscher Tierschutzbund e.V. | Deutsches Tierschutzbüro e.V. | DIE LINKE | Erster Freier Tierschutzverein Leipzig und Umgebung e.V. | foodwatch e. v. | Förderverein für den Tierhof Stade-Cuxhaven e.V. | Fraktion UFFBASSE | GRÜNE LIGA Berlin e.V. | GUTuN | Hamburger Tierschutzverein von 1841 e. V. | Heldenmarkt (Forum Futura UG) | Hundehilfe Russland e.V. | Initiative für Tiere in Not e.V. | Internationaler Tierschutzverein Grenzenlos e.V. | Kölner Tierschutzverein 1868 | Lebenshilfe Kuh & Co. e.V. | Lobby pro Tier Mienenbüttel e.V. | mensch fair tier | Menschen für Tierrechte - Bundesverband der Tierversuchsgegner e.V. | Menschen für Tierrechte – Tierversuchsgegner Baden-Württemberg  e.V. | Netzfrauen | NOAH Menschen für Tiere e.V. | Ökologisch-Demokratische Partei (ÖDP) | PARTEI MENSCH UMWELT TIERSCHUTZ | Pro Animale für Tiere in Not e.V. | PROVIEH e.V. | Rettet das Huhn e.V. | Robbenzentrum Föhr | Rüsselheim e.V. | Schüler für Tiere e.V. | Schutzengel für Tiere e.V. | Slow Food Deutschland | Sozis für Tiere | Stiftung Hof Butenland | TASSO | Tierärzte für verantwortbare Landwirtschaft e.V. | Tierauffangstation Meiningen | Tierfreunde ohne Grenzen e.V. | Tierhuus Insel Föhr e.V. | TiernotHilfe Gutlindenhof e.V. | Tierschutz Hildesheim und Umgebung e.V. | Tierschutz Spanien e.V. | Tierschutzverein Bamberg e.V. | Tierschutzverein Ditzingen e. V. | Tierschutzverein Dresden e.V. | Tierschutzverein Gera und Umgebung e.V. | Tierschutzverein Hof und Umgebung e. V. | Tierschutzverein Meiningen | Tierschutzverein München e.V. | Tierschutzverein Noris e.V. | Tierschutzverein Nürtingen-Frickenhausen | Tierschutzverein Tierheim Falkensee und Umgebung e. V. | Tierschutzverein Weißenhorn e.V. | Tierschutzverein Worms Stadt und Land e.V. | Tierwork e.V. | TSV Nestwerk Münsterland e.V. | Vegane Powerfrauen e.V. | Verein Gegen Tierfabriken (VGT) | Verein Tierfreiheit e.V. | Vier Pfoten - Stiftung für Tierschutz | Voice for the Voiceless e.V. | V-Partei³ | Wildtierhilfe Lüneburger Heide e.V.
Dänemark (DK):
Anima | Dyrenes Beskyttelse | Dyrenes Venner | World Animal Protection Denmark
Eesti (EE):
Loomus | Nahtamatud Loomad
Ελλάδα (EL):
Adespotologio | Aesop Cultural – Ecological Animal Welfare Organisation  | Agapazo Fylis | Animal Care Lefkas | Animal welfare and cultural group Frontizo | Animal Welfare Association of Aigialeia The Friends | Animal Welfare Association of Phthiotis | Animal Welfare Association of Volos Kosmos and Nature | Animal Welfare Paros | Animals’ Voice Astypalea | ARGOS Animal Rescue | Association for the Protection of Animals S.C. Messologgiou Hope | Chios Animal Welfare Society | Eptapsyhes | Filozoiko Somateio Limnou Stray Souls | Filozoikos Omilos Kalamatas | Filozoikos Omilos Karditsas - Filokardi | Filozoikos Syllogos Neas Filadelpheias | Greek Animal Welfare/Animal Action Hellas | H Kivotos toy Thodori | Hydra Ark | Ilioupolis Animal Welfare Union | Kivotos Mytilene  | Larissa's Stray Volunteers | Nine Lives Greece | Panhellenic Animal Welfare and Environmental Federation | Pan-Hellenic Animal Welfare Federation | PAWS | Samos Animal welfare | SAPT Hellas | SCARS | SOS Adespota Vrilission | Stray Animals Care "Love" Organization | Stray Planet | Zakynthos Animal Welfare Fund | ZAWF | Zofipsi | Zophoros
España (ES):
ADDA - Asociación Defensa Derechos Animal | AnimaNaturalis | APDDA Asociación Parlamentaria en Defensa de los Derechos de los Animales | ASANDA Asociación Andaluza Para la Defensa de los Animales | Asociación nacional para la defensa de los animales (ANDA) | AVATMA | AVHA Sevilla. Asociación para el Vínculo Humano-Animal | Equalia | EQUO | Fundación FAADA | Fundación Santuario Gaia | ICALP | Igualdad Animal | PACMA Partido Animalista Contra el Maltrato Animal
Suomi (FI):
SEY Suomen Eläinsuojelu
France (FR):
30 millions d'amis | Afaad | Alliance Anticorrida | Animal Cross | Animalsace | CACH | C'est assez ! | CIWF France | Collectif Plein air | Confédération Nationale Défense de l’Animal | CRAC Europe | Education Ethique Animale | Ensemble Pour Les Animaux | Fondation Brigitte Bardot | L214 | La Fondation Droit Animal, Ethique et Sciences (LFDA) | La Nuit avec un Moustique | Ligue Pour La Protection Du Cheval | Mouvement pour les animaux | OABA | One Voice | SPA | Welfarm
Hrvatska (HR):
POBJEDE
Éireann (IE):
ISPCA
Italia (IT):
Amici della Terra | Animal Aid Italia | Animal Equality Italia | Animal Law | Animalisti Italiani | CIWF Italia Onlus | Confconsumatori | ENPA | Il Fatto Alimentare | Jane Goodall Institute | LAV | Lega Nazionale Difesa del Cane | Lega Per L'abolizione Della Caccia | Legambiente | LEIDAA | LUMEN | OIPA Onlus | Parito Animalista Italiano | Terra Nuova | Terra! Onlus
Lietuva (LT):
Tušti narvai
Lëtzebuerg/Luxembourg/Luxemburg (LU):
Ligue National pour la Protection des Animaux (LNPA)
Latvija (LV):
Dzīvnieku brīvība
Nederland (NL):
Bont voor Dieren | CAS-International | de Dierenbescherming | Compassion in World Farming Nederland | Eyes on Animals | Foodwatch Nederland | Partij voor de Dieren | Varkens in Nood | VierVoeters | Wakker Dier | World Animal Protection

Polska (PL):
Albert Schweitzer Stiftung Poland | CIWF Polska | Fundacja Viva! Akcja Dla Zwierzat | Klub Gaja | OTOZ | Otwarte Klatki (Open Cages)
Portugal (PT):
Animals de Rua | SOS Animal Portugal
România (RO):
Animals International
Sverige (SE):
Djurens Rätt | Djurskyddet Sverige | Svenska Djurskyddsforeningen | World Animal Protection SV
Slovenský (SK):
Humánny pokrok | Sloboda zvierat
Slovenija (SL):
Društvo za zaščito živali Ljubljana