Spain: Appalling images show chickens kept in dirty, rat-infested cages

Horrifying images obtained by an animal rights group show hens cooped up in cramped, rat-infested cages beside chicken carcasses and insects crawling over eggs.

The graphic photos from a Spanish farm that sells eggs domestically were publicised after an undercover investigation by Equalia, while a campaign is gathering ground in Britain to ban chickens kept in cages.

Equalia has made a criminal complaint against the owners of the farm in Castilla la Mancha, Granja Avícola C. Padrino SA, alleging cruelty and contravention of health standards. If convicted of any offences, the farm owners could face fines.

More than three quarters of hens on Spanish farms live in cages, “so there is an urgent need for political and business will to progressively eliminate this production system and anticipate European laws against cages,” said María Villaluenga, spokesperson for Equalia.

The European Commission plans to introduce legislation by 2023 to phase out the use of cages for laying hens, sows and calves but this will not cover the UK.

About 40 per cent of all eggs produced in Britain are not from free range chickens, according to the Humane League UK.