The Combination System, ‘Combi’ for short, is being sold to farmers who are looking to produce cage-free eggs. But the Combi has one very big problem: at the flick of a door, it becomes a cage.
This is a deeply worrying situation. The Combi system – row upon row, tier upon tier, of wire cubicles – goes against the true spirit of the cage-free future you campaigned for, and were promised, by major food companies.
A donation from you today could help:
- Our Food Business Team to engage with major food companies, brands and retailers, as well as recipients of Compassion’s ‘Good Egg’ Award, to ensure they understand that cage-free must really mean cage-free: for their own credibility, for consumers and, most importantly, for the sake of the animals.
- Our Policy Team press for honest labelling of all animal products. We will push for the EU and British authorities to recognise that eggs from Combi systems may be from caged hens.
- Ensure our Campaigns Team can get the word out to the public that a cage is a cage; that nothing should be allowed to undermine the progress the UK and EU have made in the fight against low-welfare farming.
- Make sure consumers understand what cages, and other cruel farming systems, really mean: poor quality food and a miserable life for animals.
It is critical that we fight the Combi cage on all these fronts, but we have little time to spare. Egg producers are currently buying systems that will help them meet their cage free commitments. With a gift today, you can help protect hens and spread the word that a cage with a door is still a cage.
Your victories are at risk
In the past two years, Compassionate people like you have persuaded all the remaining major UK retailers, and many others across Europe, to commit to going cage-free on whole eggs. These victories have the power to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of animals. But not if the Combi system is allowed to spread.
Because Combi cages have a robust door that can be closed at the operator’s discretion, there is a huge risk that the hens may be shut in for much – if not all – of their lives. Who would know? In many countries there is no monitoring or independent way to verify how often the doors are closed.
And then there’s the possibility that a big retailer could decide to back-track on their cage-free commitment. In this case, Combi systems could be reverted to permanent colony cages, and all the work to End the Cage Age for hens could be undone.
Combi cage manufacturers claim the doors have innocent functions such as easing quarantine or controlling the introduction of young animals into the system. But, when the doors are closed, the conditions and stocking density are likely to be no better – perhaps even worse – than existing cages. Natural behaviours, from flapping and scratching to roaming and dust-bathing will be next to impossible.
And, even if the doors are open, we have concerns. Due to the design of some if these systems, birds may injure themselves moving between the tiers or down to the floor. Plus, some hens may barely move between cubicles at all – making their life cage-free in name only.
Right now, Combi cage manufacturers are actively marketing their products in the UK and across Europe. We need to work – urgently and directly – with farmers and retailers who are deciding how to meet their cage-free commitments. We need to help them deliver a truly higher welfare life for their animals, and prevent them making a terrible Combi cage choice.