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News Section Icon Published 07/07/2022

Our major new undercover investigation released today, 7 July 2022, has revealed the immense suffering of sows in cage systems on EU farms – including those supplying ‘premium’ hams Parma and Bayonne.

Powerful new footage from an investigation of 16 farms across Italy, Spain, France and Poland reveals the cruelty, torment and frustration that sows are forced to suffer in stalls and farrowing crates as they await the promised EU ban on caged farming.

sow behind bars
Italy, unable to nurture her piglets. A sow’s interactions with her piglets are severely restricted by the cage.

Cages prevent almost all movement

The farms investigated include those supplying so-called ‘premium’ products – Parma and Bayonne hams. Our investigators found that sows on these farms were kept in the same extreme confinement as those on ‘standard’ farms; confinement typically endured by an estimated 85% of sows in the EU.

Our investigation reveals that sows:

  • spend many weeks in cages so small they prevent practically all movement apart from standing up and lying down
  • endure lying in their own excrement and urine, something they would naturally avoid
  • experience the torment of being unable to properly nurture their young because of the restriction of the cage
  • resort to abnormal repetitive behaviours like bar biting and chewing the air because they are so frustrated.

We’re sending a summary of our investigation findings to agriculture ministers across Europe and urging our supporters to take action calling on them to press for the EU ban without delay.

wounds sow
Poland, painful injuries. The sow lies, severely restricted, on a hard floor which causes hock lesions and pressure sores.

EU committed to cage ban

Last year, the European Commission publicly committed to introducing legislation to end the caging of EU farm animals. This commitment was made in response to the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘End the Cage Age’, led by us, which gathered 1.4 million verified signatures from citizens across the EU and was the first successful initiative for farmed animals.

“Companies keep selling goods publicly recognised as ‘quality” products, yet consumers are unaware that animals are abused in the process. Our latest investigation reveals the terrible conditions in which female pigs are forced to live behind the closed doors of factory farms across the EU,” said Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU. “These dreadful realities should belong to the past! Citizens have spoken loud and clear that they want to see all animals freed from cages. It’s time for the EU to keep its promise to End the Cage Age without delay. That’s why we’re urging the European Commission to propose the ban on caged farming by mid next year" she added.

sow forced to live in dirt
Spain, forced to lie in their own urine and faeces. Sows are instinctively clean and excrete away from where they lie. Cages prevent their natural behaviour and also increase the risk of urinary tract infections.

Smooth financial transition possible

A report released in March showed that a smooth financial transition can be achieved for farmers when the EU introduces a ban on cages. The report by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), Financing the cage-free farming transition in Europe, shows that both EU and national financial mechanisms can be used – some of which are already available to farmers – to support the transition to cage-free animal agriculture across the EU.

Read more about our cages investigation

no space in sow stalls
France, no space to move in sow stalls. Each sow is confined to an individual cage, barely bigger than the size of her body. Each cage prevents nearly all movement, other than standing up and lying down.

For more information, please email



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If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).