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Investigation uncovers dairy calves raised in breach of EU law

News Section Icon Published 22/07/2019

Our new investigation released today, 22 July 2019, exposes some incidents of EU law infringement, such as calves completely unable to see and touch each other and calves around three to four months old being kept in pens that were too small for them.

The investigation from five Polish dairy farms also reveals the cruelty of current EU standards for young dairy calves. EU farmers can legally raise calves in small, individual pens, where they are isolated and severely restricted of expressing natural behaviours, including play and exercise, and deprived of social contact which is necessary for their mental and emotional well-being.

Investigation's film

The investigations’ film includes footage from Poland (2019), Germany (2018), the Netherlands (2018), Denmark (2015), Italy (2017), and Czechia (2018).

This investigation confirms what has often been documented in the last few years: caged systems used in many EU countries are equally cruel," says Compassion in World Farming’s Head of EU Office Olga Kikou. "Worse still, EU law allows this, despite evidence that group housing from birth can provide welfare and health benefits.

Across Europe, around 20 million calves are born to dairy cows each year. Of these, research suggests that 60% are confined and spend part or all of the first eight weeks of their lives isolated. This amounts to over 12 million dairy calves across the EU, each year.

Together with over 170 organisations and more than one million EU citizens, Compassion in World Farming calls for a Europe-wide ban of all cages in animal farming, including the pens used so unnaturally to isolate young calves. We support the “End the Cage Age” European Citizens’ Initiative a direct democracy tool that requires the European Commission to respond to its call.

In Europe, more than 300 hundred million animals spend their entire lives in cages confined, restricted and thwarted from carrying out their natural behaviours. Cages are cruel and completely unnecessary. The “End the Cage Age” European Citizens' Initiative calls on the European Commission to propose a ban on cages for animals such as hens, pullets, sows, calves, ducks, geese, quail and rabbits. 

The footage released today reminds us that the fight to get farm animals out of cages is far from over” says Olga, who is also a substitute Member of the Citizens’ Committee of the End the Cage Age European Citizens’ Initiative. “We need to ensure the EU institutions realise that EU citizens are repulsed by bad and outdated agricultural practices that the EU endorses.


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