Working for the introduction of minimum standards for the protection of farmed rabbits


Nearly 1.2 billion rabbits are slaughtered annually for meat worldwide. China is the largest producer with a share of 40%. In the European Union rabbits are the second most farmed species with around 326 million slaughtered every year, the majority of which in Italy, Spain and France.

Intensive farming systems have severe negative implications for the welfare of rabbits. Currently over 99% of rabbits farmed for meat in the EU, spend their lives confined in tiny, barren cages, unable to express their species specific behaviour. An EFSA report of 2005 on “the impact of the current housing and husbandry systems on the health and welfare of farmed domestic rabbits has highlighted these problems. Since then, no follow up has been made until Members of the EP Animal Welfare Intergroup and pressure from Animal Welfare NGOs (e.g. Compassion in World Farming) have succeeded to set it on the EPs agenda.


The EP own initiative report on minimum standards for the protection of farm rabbits

Stefan Eck (GUE/NGL, DE)

In January 2017, the EP’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development voted in favour of a report by Stefan Eck (GUE/NGL, DE) on minimum standards for the protection of farm rabbits (2016/2077(INI)) which was discussed on several occasions in the Intergroup and was actively promoted by its Members. This report calls for gradually phasing out conventional battery cages with more animal welfare friendly housing systems, to reduce the use of antibiotics and to introduce common measures on EU level. It is suggested to use rural development funding to cover the added costs related to more animal welfare friendly housing systems. However, an amendment asking for species-specific legislation for rabbits – within an appropriate time frame was rejected by a very slight majority.


The EPs call for species specific legislation by the House

This request was finally accepted by the majority  of the House during the plenary vote on the report.

Summary of the adopted report



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