The barren cage
Barren battery cages are the most common housing for meat rabbits. Rabbits are caged individually or in small groups, with very little space to move as they grow. EU legislation has banned the barren battery cage for laying hens, but no such legislation exists to protect farmed rabbits.
Cages have wired flooring and are bare except for the provision of feed and water. Rabbits are unable to express most of their natural behaviours including: lying stretched out, rearing up on their hind legs (due to the height restriction of the cages), gnawing, hopping and digging. Breeding rabbits are usually kept in single cages which denies them social interaction and suffer feet sores from the wire mesh. Mortality rates are very high due to disease and antibiotics are used routinely.
The enriched cage
There are no EU-wide legal requirements for enriched cages. The enriched cage, known as the ‘welfare cage’, includes a platform, a section of plastic flooring and a gnawing block. However, the space available is still very restricted limiting behaviour, the floor is still mostly wire and there are no requirements to provide hay or hiding places. Enriched cages are also used for breeding does that are individually housed.
Common caged systems (both barren and enriched) house thousands of rabbits stacked in dark sheds with many rows and tiers