Mothers Day
An Animal Rights Article from


Jenny Moxham
May 2010

This Sunday is Mothers Day - that day of the year celebrated around the world to honour mothers and motherhood

Officially recognized in the USA in 1914, it came into being after a seven year campaign by West Virginian, Anna Jarvis. Though not a mother herself, she was devoted to her own mother and, after her death in May 1905, she came up with the idea of having a day set aside to permanently honour all mothers.   On this day of the year mums are typically pampered and their children do things to make them feel special and loved.   Tragically, however not all mums will be pampered or shown affection.   For farmed animal mums this day will be as sad as every other.

Forced - usually by artificial insemination - to become mothers, they are cruelly denied all the joys associated with motherhood.   Cows are devoted mothers, yet year after year they are forced to endure the pain of having their babies stolen from them shortly after birth.

An ex dairy farm worker recalled the day he witnessed this callousness first hand. "The calf had just been born and I had gone to the pasture to see it with the farmer. When we reached the couple, the mother cow was licking her sleepy eyed baby with firm strokes of her tongue. The calf lay on the grass, legs folded beside it, wet with amniotic fluid. Suddenly it's mother took two fumbling steps away, bringing up her head and letting out a startled cry. The farmer had just slammed his body into her, knocking her off balance. With violent determination he did it again, making her move farther away. Shouting and slapping her flank he forced her to start walking back to the barn.

Her calf, born that morning , was carried to the barn over the deep ruts of the pasture in the cold steel bucket of a skid steer and is now long dead".   Despite years of giving birth and providing the farmer with milk, the mother cow is disposed of equally callously.

"I can't forget", recalled the farm worker, " the panicked calls of an older cow chained in her stall after the herd had filed outside, growing hoarse in a nearly empty barn while she waited to be picked up for slaughter."   Where is the respect for mothers and motherhood here?   Pig mothers are treated even more harshly. Severely confined in body hugging metal and concrete pens for most of their lives, these sensitive and intelligent females suffer both from the loss of their babies and the stress and pain of being imprisoned - and giving birth - in such intolerable conditions.   Chicken mothers don't even get to see their adorable fluffy chicks - and perhaps it's just as well.

How would they feel seeing their beautiful male babies being dropped live into industrial mincing machines or suffocated shortly after being born? How would they feel seeing their female babies subjected to agonizing de-beaking with lasers or red hot blades?

How would "broiler" mums feel seeing their blue-eyed babies already in chronic pain and crippled by the tender age of six weeks?   Surely all of us who are mothers can empathize with these, our non-human "sisters".

And surely too, it's time we stood up for them by refusing to support, with our consumer dollars, these industries which so heartlessly and ruthlessly exploit them.   Doesn't every mother have the right to know and nurture her offspring - and, doesn't every baby have a right to it's mothers love?

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