Study on alternatives to cage housing in European livestock farming

Scientists from the department Population Health Sciences and CenSAS were asked by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs to submit an advisory report on the topic of ‘Ending the Cage – Looking for Alternatives’. This report was requested to aid the discussion of the Citizens Initiative ‘End the Cage Age’, asking to ban all cage housing for farm animals from the European Union. This petition was signed by more than 1.4 million people in the EU and was the initiative of the collaborating animal protection organisations in Europe.

Our study focused on alternatives for cage housing for farm animals, and for laying hens and sows in particular. We choose to focus on these species because these are the most significant in terms of numbers of animals, but also because alternatives are available or are currently being developed. We showed that cage-free housing has a positive effect on the behavioural freedom and welfare of animals. No major problems arise with regard to other aspects of sustainability. Research shows that cage-free housing is currently possible or will be in the future. A shift towards cage-free housing systems may be achieved by financial and policy measures in the short term and legislation in the long term.

The report can be downloaded here.