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A punch of little rabbits eating grain from a pan in the grass

Ban on farming rabbits in cages

Legal situation now

  1. ยง18 (3a) TSG says: From 1st January 2012 onwards it is forbidden to keep rabbits in cages to produce meat.

Campaign for a ban of farming rabbits in cages

In April 2007, the true horror of rabbit farming in battery cages in Austria was made public. In consequence, supermarkets banned rabbit meat from their shelves. In August 2007, a campaign to get rabbit cages banned was decided upon. In early November, the government conceded that a change in law was necessary, although they only suggested enriched cages with plastic floor and structures. A frenzied intensive campaign by VGT and other groups was eventually successful. On 4th December 2007, the majority in parliament agreed to the new cage ban.

The rabbit cage ban for meat production includes the keeping of rabbits in wooden hutches. In the future, rabbits for meat production must be kept on the floor in a way that they can run and hide and jump, and that there is no lid or roof above their heads. Just putting straw in a wooden box is definitely not enough to evade the ban. The keeping of rabbits for fur production has already been illegal in Austria since 1998.

The rabbit cage ban takes effect in 2012 and will affect about 300.000 rabbits. According to ministry numbers, by the end of 2007 there were 23 rabbit cage batteries for meat production in Austria. However, there is an exception for recently built (since 2005) cage batteries, for which a longer phase-out till 2020 will be put in place. This is the most serious set-back of this new law. It means that one rabbit battery farm will continue till then, and another, which has just ordered new cages (being aware that the cage ban will become law by 1st January 08 and that there is an exception for newly built cages), may also continue till then. So, at least one if not two rabbit cage battery farms will stay in operation till 2020.

The ban also includes keeping rabbits temporarily in cages or wooden boxes. This means that even if the farmer puts the rabbits out into an open enclosure during the day and only into wooden boxes during the night, it would be illegal.

The political dimension of this ban is immense. There are no laws in the EU regarding rabbit farming. Rabbits are even not included in agricultural statistics, so it is not clear how many rabbits are being used. Worldwide, there will be about 1 billion rabbits being farmed, in the EU it should be around 400 million. Regarding the situation of rabbit farming, CAFT published a report of a 2 year investigation in 2007: see rabbitfur.org.

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