In 2021, 141 million pigs were kept on farms in the EU. A large proportion of them live at least part of their lives in cages. This concerns breeding sows in particular. “Compassion in World Farming” visited 16 pig farms from four European countries between February and May 2022 and uncovered immeasurable animal suffering.
The countries studied have a particularly high cage ratio. For example, of all breeding sows in Spain, it is estimated that 95% live in cages. In Italy it is 94% and in France 90%. With about 44% of the breeding sows living in the country in cages, Poland is the most advanced country in this respect among the countries studied.
Cages mean immense suffering for the sows. The cages are usually just big enough for the animals to stand up in (often even this is difficult, as the freedom of movement to the side is so restricted by the bars that the animals have problems standing up). Turning around or even walking is impossible in the cages.
Life in the cages leads to enormous health and mental suffering for the sows. The animals in those farms suffered from
- sores on the body from constantly lying on a hard surface and not shifting their weight enough
- bite marks and sores on the udders from piglets that they cannot avoid
- urinary tract infections due to constantly lying in their own faeces
The stress caused by this type of husbandry is also evident in the animals’ behaviour. Many start gnawing at the bars or even banging their heads against the cage because of frustration and lack of stimuli.
We also discovered pigs during our last animal transport campaign in Styria at over 27 degrees. No pig should have to live like taht. Greens in the European Parliament are calling for an end to caging for all animals across Europe and a return to regional and small-scale farming for healthy animals, a clean environment and a good life for all of us.