Alyn Smith MEP has publicly reiterated his backing to 'End the Cage Age' for farmed rabbits, citing deep animal welfare concerns. MEPs voted in Strasbourg today 410 to 205 to demand a new law to protect the animals.
The non-binding resolution calls for national governments to roll back on intensive battery farms for rabbits, and to financially reward farmers who use pens instead of cages. It also calls for the European Commission to come forward with housing guidelines for farmed rabbits, and to ensure that the imported animals enjoy the same welfare and food-safety criteria as their domestically-reared counterparts.
Alyn, Honorary Vice-President of the Scottish SPCA, said:
"Rabbits are one of the most caged farm animals, and it's only right and proper for the EU to bring out formal legislation to regulate the conditions on rabbit farms.
"We're not even talking about huge, expensive measures. Something as simple as providing a plastic platform instead of bare wire would prevent sores on the footpads of rabbits, thereby avoiding a common culling cause.
"According to Compassion in World Farming (CiWF), more than 99% of Europe’s farmed rabbits are caged, and unable to jump or even to stand fully upright in the confines of the cage. I am deeply concerned about the welfare of these animals, as CiWF also note that rabbits are being kept in overcrowded bare wire cages, with farms overly reliant on antibiotics to treat disease - if the sick or injured rabbits are treated at all.
"We already have minimum EU standards for pigs, calves and hens, but no specific legislation on minimum standards for the protection of rabbits. That's why I fully support this vote, and will do all I can to see the measures implemented to protect rabbits across Europe."