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Barren Battery Cage Chickens - This method now illegal in Europe but ignored by the majority of countries.

Updated on September 27, 2017
Peter Geekie profile image

A retired pharmaceutical and industrial chemist, author and historian specialising in military events.

Battery hens having lost their feathers
Battery hens having lost their feathers
Rescued battery hens
Rescued battery hens
Earth beneath her feet and the sun on her back for the first time
Earth beneath her feet and the sun on her back for the first time
Wooly jacket for ex battery hen
Wooly jacket for ex battery hen
Another pair with wooly jackets
Another pair with wooly jackets
This is the conditions under which free range hens live. A little better but still pretty awful.
This is the conditions under which free range hens live. A little better but still pretty awful.

On the 1st January 2012 the EU barren battery cage for hens law came into force. ( Council Directive 1999/74/EC) This has taken over 40 years of campaigning to allow more than 250 million hens to live better and more comfortable lives.

It now means that barren battery cages are illegal throughout the whole of the European Union. Compassion in world Farming, of which I am a member, should be rightly proud of their contribution to achieving this result and it would be nice if we could celebrate a real victory.

However, as with many things in the EU certain member countries choose to totally ignore the laws and allow their farmers to carry on in the same old brutal ways all in the name of profit.

I think it is necessary that these countries are named and shamed and they are:










You may very well ask yourself what is the point in passing such laws when major countries such as this blatantly break them without any repercussions.

If you are not familiar with a barren battery cage they are so small that the hen cannot move around inside and cannot get away from the other occupants. They have no room to stretch or flap their wings and their eggs just drop into chutes. The cages are totally barren with no straw or bedding just a wire floor coated in droppings which eventually burn the bird’s feet. The disgraceful part is that these cages are still manufactured and sold in the offending countries. The chicken farmers in these countries cannot claim they needed time to put alternative arrangements into place as they had 10 years notice of the change in the law.

Compassion in world Farming intends to make an example of Spain (largest egg producer in the EU with 12 million hens in these cages) and is targeting Spain’s Agriculture Minister D. Miguel Arias Canete to force him to comply with the law. If you wish to join the protest please contact CIWF directly on their website.

Since this was first written, along with UK, Germany and Holland will comply with the ban, but the remaining countries complain they haven't had enough time and will ignore it. Please add your voice in protest via Compassion in World Farming and boycott eggs from the illegal countries.

Further information:

The latest information is that most of the countries now officially comply with the regulations although it is still routinely ignored by many poultry farmers in several countries. However Greece completely ignores the ban and continues to keep the vast majority of their hens in these barren battery cages. Go to CiWF website and learn how to put pressure on the Greek Government.

Ex battery hens are quite freely available, are good natured and give plenty of tasty eggs. As a very young child I would sit in the hen house surrounded by sweet smelling hens who would snuggle down and keep me warm.

Chickens are without doubt one of the most abused farm animals.

The EU is probably one of the most toothless and corrupt organisations in existence, Britains exit from the EU is the best move we ever made and can't come soon enough. The idea that we pay vast sums of money to leave is utterly crazy, we owe them nothing and can exist better without them.

© 2012 Peter Geekie


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    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for the very important information, Peter. Keeping chickens in battery cages is a very inhumane way to treat them. I think that the cages should be illegal everywhere - and the law enforced.

    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      6 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear Joyce

      Thanks for your comments. You are quite right as a country we love to apply laws literally which can be a double edged sword. In this case it is a good thing for the chickens but on other occasions our blind obedience to the letter of the law can be counter-productive.

      Kind regards Peter

    • Peter Geekie profile imageAUTHOR

      Peter Geekie 

      6 years ago from Sittingbourne

      thanks Angie

      Sorry for the delay but I have been in Belgium all day.

      Thanks very much for the correction on the web site. I may know at lot of useless rubbish but computers are not one of them. It's taken me 3 months to work out my iPad !!!

      kind regards peter

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      I think we Brits are more law tolerable then most countrys.

      Great hub.

      Voted up useful and interesting.

      Here hoping you have a great weekend, Joyce.

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 

      6 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Peter ... an important hub. I applaud your stand on this and wholeheartedly support it.

      Just one thing to help others protest is to make that Compassion in World Farming link a proper link that people can click on straight away.

      Here is it:


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