When we think of mothers, care, concern and selfless love come to mind. Most of us would never want to hurt a mother, human or not, not to mention to torture her.
However, when it comes to our food choices, many of us pay other people to torture mother animals and their babies in the most horrific ways. The following examples are just some of the things that are done to mother animals in order to produce meat, dairy or eggs.
1. Confining mothers in tiny cages where they can't move
In the meat industry, sows are being kept in tiny gestation crates during and after their pregnancies. These crates are so small the mothers are only allowed to stand up or lay down and will never get a chance to turn around. They are also forced to eat and defecate in the same crate.
Mother rabbits reared for meat are also crammed into tiny cages with barely any space to move about, denying them the ability to adopt normal postures such as lying stretched out, standing with their ears erect, or rearing up to explore their surroundings.
Chickens, like snakes, are able to lay unfertilized eggs without a rooster. Although hens used for eggs aren't technically mothers, they still regard the unfertilized eggs as normal, regular, fertilized eggs. Because of this, many hens have the emotional need of laying on their eggs, fertilized or not, and keep them warm and protected.
However, in the egg industry, they are denied this and instead are forced to live for 1.5 to 2 years cramped together in small battery cages where they are unable to fully spread their wings or walk around.
2. Creating genetically deformed mothers to get more milk and eggs
Years of selective breeding in order to maximize profits and efficiency for the food industry have resulted in genetically deformed animals. Nowadays, even organic and small farms use breeds of genetically distorted animals. This leads to the animals suffering even more as their health deteriorates.
On dairy farms, mother cows have been bred to have huge udders in order for them to produce a lot of milk, almost 4 times more than they naturally would. Understandably, this affects the cows' ability to walk and lay down, in addition to promoting all sorts of health problems.
On egg farms, chickens have been genetically altered to produce eggs up to 30 more times than they naturally would. The red jungle fowl who is the wild ancestor of the domesticated chicken lays 10 to 15 eggs a year. However, in the egg industry, these animals have been modified to lay more than 300 eggs every year.
Laying so many eggs severely affects the hen’s health, longevity, and well-being. For example, laying hens are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis which causes bones to become weak and break more easily.
3. Confining and torturing female fish for decades to get their eggs
The beluga (also known as European Sturgeon) are huge fish who swim long distances and can live for more than 100 years. Sadly, they are critically endangered because of the Caviar industry that sells their eggs.
Some farmed beluga, such as the ones in the picture, are kept in marine farms which are crowded nets inside the ocean. Others are kept outside the ocean and inside shallow, filthy and crowded tanks almost their entire lives. Only about a month prior to having their eggs taken, they're allowed to swim in clean water for the first time. This is done to remove the taste of filthy water from the eggs.
Although most pregnant females are killed when they are cut open for their eggs, some farms maintain the females alive by injecting them with hormones that induce them into early labor. Then, workers either perform surgery on them or “massage” their eggs out, all while the fish are conscious and outside the water.
The process of egg harvesting can be repeated every 15 months and throughout the lifetime of the female, which may last many decades. Decades inside filthy, crowded and shallow waters, with absolutely nothing to do other than to suffer through one day after the other.
4. Torturing babies in front of their caged mother pigs
More than 95% of mother pigs used for meat are locked inside such small cages, they can’t do anything to defend their babies who are grabbed one by one and subjected to horrid violence.
Can we even imagine how helpless they must feel when they are forced to watch their own babies scream as their testicles are ripped out, their teeth clipped and their tails cut? All while fully aware and without any forms of anesthesia?
5. Kidnapping babies from their mothers to get their milk
In recent years, the standard practice of kidnapping babies from their mothers on dairy farms has gained some more awareness. This is done because a mother cow must first give birth to be able to produce milk. And in order for us to obtain that milk, their baby will have to be taken away so they will not drink it.
This happens to all animals who are used by the dairy industry – cows, sheep, goats, buffaloes and more. Only a few hours after the mothers have given birth, their babies will be snatched away from them, either to be slaughtered for meat or forced to endure the same fate as their mothers.
6. Starving hens to force them to lay more eggs
Forced Molting is the practice of starving hens for a period of 7 and up to 28 days. Some egg farms deny hens water as well. This tricks the hens to shed their feathers quickly, which leads to more eggs after the process of molting is done.
During this period of starvation, some hens die, while the survivors lose 25-30% of their body weight. The desperate hens are kept in tiny cages, where they are unable to forage for food and are entirely at the mercy of the humans involved.
Although the European Union banned forced molting, this is still happening in most egg farms in the U.S. and in other countries around the world. Egg farms that don't starve hens usually send the hens to slaughter when they reach 12 months of age.
Hens on egg farms where forced molting occurs will go through this process once a year and until they are sent to slaughter when they reach 1.5-2.5 years.
7. Killing mother pigs with axes to their heads
In the meat industry, some female pigs are used for breeding pigs. These sows are continuously forcefully impregnated, which of course is not only physically exhausting but mentally draining as well.
During and after their pregnancies, sows are kept in tiny gestation or farrowing crates, so small that they are unable to turn around and can only stand or lay down. Due to all the non-stop pregnancies and lack of mobility and exercise, it is very common to find these mother pigs in terrible health. Some sows even get to the point where they just collapse or can no longer get pregnant.
When these mothers can no longer carry a pregnancy, they are disposed of, many times on the farm itself. New investigations have shown how “enviable” sows are being repeatedly hit with metal bars or poles and bludgeoned to death with axes or sledgehammers.
8. Slaughtering mother cows while pregnant
In order to produce dairy, cows are forcefully impregnated every year so they continue to produce milk, as cows can only produce milk when they give birth, just like humans.
Due to the very frequent pregnancies, dairy cows become worn out and start to produce lesser and lesser milk. When these mothers are no longer profitable to the industry, they are sent to slaughter while their daughters are forced to take their place and suffer the same fate as them.
Since dairy cows are impregnated about once a year with each pregnancy lasting 9 months, many are sent to slaughter while carrying an unborn baby. A study held in a UK slaughterhouse revealed that 23.5% of the slaughtered cows were pregnant, from which 26.9% were in their third trimester.