Mother’s Day Down on the Farm
Mums are awesome. But while you’re showing yours how much you love her on Mother’s Day – or, if you’re a mother yourself, enjoying some well-earned appreciation – it’s worth remembering that animals are often parents, too. Just like us, other animals have strong maternal instincts, feel instant love for their children and want to watch them grow up. But in the farming industry, they rarely get the chance: their babies are snatched away from them, never to be seen again.
Here’s a little more info about what it’s like to be an animal mum reared for food:
As soon as they’re born, calves and their mothers begin to bond. Their affection for each other is so deep that if they are forced apart, they both endure severe distress. Cow mums have been known to escape their enclosures and travel for miles looking for their calves. It’s cruelly ironic that the dairy industry forces cows to be constantly pregnant yet allows them to spend only a few hours with their children before having them torn from their side. The calf never gets to drink his or her mother’s milk, because humans take it instead. And many of these infants are made to spend the rest of their short lives in veal crates, frightened, lonely and in the dark.
Image: JoAnne McArthur / We Animals
A doting mother, female pigs in nature spend days building a nest of leaves or straw before giving birth. Their piglets then stay with them for about 15 weeks. The nesting instinct is so strong for sows that even when they have nothing but a hard floor, they still attempt to build a nest, pawing at the floor, nuzzling the bars and attempting to turn around .
On factory farms, pigs must give birth in barren metal cages, called “farrowing crates”, which are often so small that the mothers can’t even stand up or turn round. The sow can neither get close enough to clean her children nor move away from them when she wants to, leading to many incidents of aggression towards piglets, which is virtually unheard of in the wild.
Given the chance, mother hens turn their eggs as many as five times an hour and cluck softly to their unborn chicks, who chirp back from within their shells. After hatching, a mother will shield her chicks from predators with her wings. But in the egg industry, hens never get to exercise their motherly urges fully. Rather than building a nest in a quiet place and sitting on their eggs, they are forced to lie in a cramped, stressful battery cage before having their eggs taken away from them to hatch inside a vast industrial incubator. They never get to see their chicks – who, if they’re male, are likely to be killed when they’re only a day old.
So as you applaud your mother for all her hard work, please make sure that you’re not contributing to another mother’s suffering. Keep your celebrations vegan – free from animal products and from cruelty to animals.