RSPCA Calls for Ban on Caging Hens and Pigs in the UK


Charity Advocates for Animal Welfare Reform

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is championing a significant policy change for the welfare of farm animals. They are calling on the prospective UK government to commit to prohibiting the use of cages for hens and pigs within the initial 100 days of their term.

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Public Opinion Strongly Against Cages

A survey conducted by the Social Market Foundation, commissioned by the RSPCA, has shown overwhelming public disapproval of caging farm animals. An astounding 96% of respondents oppose the confinement of pigs in farrowing crates, and 94% object to hens living in cages.

Misconceptions and the Reality of Cage Use

Despite a common misconception, with 21% of people believing that hens are no longer kept in cages, the truth is starkly different. The RSPCA reports that 10 million hens are caged for life, each with space no larger than an A4 piece of paper, and 200,000 sows are restricted in farrowing crates around the time of birthing, unable to turn around.

Outdated and Cruel Practices

Chris Sherwood, the RSPCA’s Chief Executive, has condemned the caging of laying hens and pigs as “outdated and cruel.” He emphasizes that such practices prevent animals from moving freely and exhibiting natural behaviors. Sherwood urges the UK government to prioritize farm animal welfare and abolish these “inhumane systems.”

Scotland Leads the Way

With Scotland initiating a consultation to end the use of cages, the RSPCA believes that the UK government should take similar action, demonstrating a commitment to advancing farm animal welfare.

The Shift from Battery to Enriched Cages

Although conventional battery cages were banned in Europe in 2012, they have been replaced with enriched cages, which still offer limited space—just about 750cm squared per bird. The RSPCA insists that even these enriched cages are insufficient for the well-being of the animals.

A History of Animal Welfare Advocacy

The RSPCA reflects on its 200-year history of advocating for animal welfare, including the creation of the first animal welfare law and the recent ban on live exports in Great Britain. Sherwood highlights the current challenges animals face, such as climate change and industrial farming, which he identifies as a significant threat to animal welfare, particularly for chickens reared for meat.

A Call to Action for the Next Government

The RSPCA remains steadfast in its commitment to improve the lives of farm animals and calls upon the next UK government to take a stand by pledging to ban cages for farmed animals, marking a critical step towards ending intensive, lower welfare farming practices.

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