Respect all mothers this Mother's Day

07 May 2020

As Mother's Day approaches, it's time to think about how humans treat other mothers, the mothers of species we choose to eat or use in some way. It's time to think about the billions of farmed animals who live their whole lives without ever seeing their mothers.

The animal agriculture breeding industry is appalling. Whether they are cows, pigs, chickens, sheep or any other animal, these sentient individuals are treated merely as milk or egg production units, or as breeders for the half a billion farmed animals raised and killed each year in Australia for food.

Mothers in the dairy industry

If you eat dairy, you are taking milk from a mother who was never allowed to feed her own children.

Let's follow the life of a typical cow in the dairy industry. When she is born she is taken away from her mother soon after birth. Growing up without her mother, when she is old enough at about 18 months she is forcibly made pregnant for the first time. After nine months she gives birth to her baby, who is taken from her within hours. Being a deeply maternal animal, this is incredibly stressful for both her and baby.

The milk she makes to feed her baby is then taken from her by pumping it from her udders twice a day. She may develop udder inflammation or become lame, like many cows do as a consequence of the conditions they are kept in.

A few months after giving birth, she is impregnated again, in order for her to keep producing milk.

This cycle repeats every year, with her babies taken away each time. Having been selectively bred to produce an unnatural volume of milk, her body becomes exhausted at a young age and she is then taken away and killed for burgers.

The male calves she gave birth to were taken to a slaughterhouse at just five days old and killed, while her female calves were raised to suffer like her in the dairy industry.

Mothers in the egg industry

If you consume eggs, you are eating eggs from a hen who never heard her mother's voice. She is a product of one of the worst places in animal agriculture - the hatchery. Chicks born into the egg industry are hatched in artificial incubators inside massive warehouses. Both mothers and chicks are denied the bonding that starts with the mother hens speaking to their chicks while they are still in the egg. Chicks in the egg industry never have the chance to learn to recognise their mother's voice or to chirp back a day or so prior to hatching.

For every egg-laying hen born into the Australian egg industry, a male chick is born. The male chicks can't lay eggs and so have no value to the industry. These male chicks are macerated (ground up alive) or gassed in the first day of their lives as 'waste products' of the industry.

Mothers in the pig industry

If you eat ham or bacon, you are eating the flesh of a piglet who was mutilated and stolen from her mother far too soon. Within 72 hours of birth, farmers cut off the tails of piglets, rip out their needle teeth, cut notches out of their ears, and castrate males, all without anesthesia or pain relief. In the wild, piglets are weaned from their moms at 4-6 months old and that females stay with their mothers for their whole lives. Yet farmers remove piglets within 2-3 weeks of birth, stolen from their mothers who are crammed into cages so small they cannot turn around.

Male and female pigs will be raised in concrete pens for 6-8 months and killed. Their mothers will spend 3-5 years in crates so small they cannot turn around.

This Mother's Day help stop this horror

This Mother's Day, do something to help these forgotten mothers - join the free 30 Day Vegan Easy Challenge. You will receive regular emails with tips, advice and delicious recipes, plus access to an online support group. Try it today.


Vegan Australia is an animal rights organisation that campaigns nationally for veganism. 
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