EU Faces Mounting Pressure Amid Disturbing Footage from Polish Egg Farm
A shocking exposé of deplorable conditions at a Polish poultry farm owned by Fermy Drobiu Woźniak, the European Union’s largest egg producer, has ignited a fierce call for action from animal rights activists. Workers at the facility have documented disturbing scenes of cruelty, including piles of dead hens, blood-covered eggs, hens with twisted legs, and pecked feathers. Anima International, an animal welfare organization, is now urging the EU to uphold its commitment to ban the use of cages for hens.
This damning footage comes as the European Union is on the brink of revising its animal welfare legislation, with proposals to phase out the use of cages for hens. The “End the Cage Age” European Citizens’ Initiative, championed by Compassion in World Farming and supported by 1.4 million people, has further intensified pressure on the EU to take decisive action.
The poultry farm in question, located in the village of Wioska in central-west Poland, houses nearly one million hens in cages and tens of thousands more in barns. Alarmingly, one in five laying hens in Poland resides on a Fermy Drobiu Woźniak farm.
Oksana and Sasha, who were employed at the farm during the summer, spent six weeks documenting their daily tasks, which included the grim responsibility of removing deceased hens from their cages. The reasons for these hen deaths were often attributed to the appalling rearing conditions, aggression leading to deadly pecking incidents among caged hens, or fatalities due to entanglement, such as getting trapped beneath perches. The workers collected dozens to hundreds of lifeless hens every day, some of which had been left to decay in their cages for several weeks.
Sasha, one of the workers, described the gruesome sight: “Sometimes they were blue, and fluids leaked out of them.”
The cramped confinement of the hens has led to acts of aggression and even cannibalism among the birds. Many of them exhibited severe physical ailments, including feather loss, deformed legs, bodily wounds, and some perished from sheer exhaustion. The footage also captures the distressing sight of hens dying while laying eggs, with eggs becoming stuck in their cloaca.
Several weeks after the footage was obtained, a veterinary inspection confirmed the troubling conditions recorded by the investigative workers. Anima International has submitted a formal complaint to the prosecutor’s office in Poland, alleging potential animal abuse. The documented evidence is expected to play a critical role in legal proceedings.
The proposed ban on cage farming is currently under consideration at the EU level as part of a broader overhaul of EU animal welfare legislation. The European Commission is slated to present a legislative proposal on this issue in the coming autumn. However, recent reports suggesting a potential abandonment of these plans have raised concerns among activists.
Kirsty Henderson, Executive Director of Anima International, emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, “Many countries are already transitioning away from caged farming systems for hens. The EU needs to follow through on its promises and do its part in eradicating animal suffering from our food system.”
Fermy Drobiu Woźniak, which exports 70% of its production to 60 countries across Europe, Asia, and Africa, now finds itself at the center of this burgeoning controversy. With approximately 300 million animals enduring lives in cages within the European Union, including those on farms owned by Fermy Drobiu Woźniak, the pressure on the EU to take meaningful action continues to mount.