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Whether they are raised on large farms or small family farms, when domesticated animals become mothers, they are all faced with the same grim reality: their children belong to someone else.

No matter how much they cherish their babies, or how desperately they struggle to protect them, they have no power whatsoever over the future their child will be forced to endure.

If the children are intended for meat, they will be taken away from their mothers long before they are fully weaned, and they will be “finished” (fattened for slaughter) in separate enclosures, or sent to feedlots with other young orphans, while the mother is forcibly re-impregnated with children she will fall in love with only to be forced to lose, again and again.

If the mother happens to be one of the millions of birds whose fertilized eggs are incubated in hatcheries that breed chickens either for meat or eggs, she will never get to see any of her babies. Every single one of the 90 billion eggs produced in the US every year originates from a hen who has been denied the freedom to raise her young.

• Born in incubators for egg or meat production, none of these chicks will ever know their mothers.

• 4-8 weeks old piglets are separated from their mother and sent to "finishing" (fattening for slaughter). In nature, they are weaned at 3-4 months and will remain close to their mother for 1-3 years.


If.the mother is used for milk production, every one of her babies will be taken away from her shortly after birth and denied access to her milk. The separation is as devastating to the mother as it is to the child. Some mother cows try to fight off the attackers, some try to shield their babies with their own bodies, some chase frantically after the transport, some cry pitifully, some withdraw in silent despair. Some go trustingly with their keepers only to return to an empty stall. They all beg for their babies in language that requires no translation: They bellow, they cry, they moan. Many continue to call for their babies for days and nights on end. Some stop eating and drinking. They search feverishly. Many refuse to give up and will return to the empty spot over and over again. Some wilt in silent grief.

Their daughters are raised in isolation to replace their own mothers in the line of production. Some of their sons are killed immediately. Many others are butchered as “veal”, 4-6 motherless months later. When these frail orphans are dragged onto the killing floor, they are still looking for their mothers, still desperately needing her nurturing presence, especially at that dark time when they are terrified and needing protection more than ever, in the midst of the terrible sights, and sounds, and smells of death all around them, and, in their despair, in their want for a shred of consolation and protection, many try to suckle the fingers of their killers.

• To a female used for milk production, the only experience of motherhood is that of grieving the loss of every baby she will ever give birth to.

• Deprived of her mother hours after birth, a “dairy” calf is desperate to suckle.

• A “dairy” goat is crying for her stolen baby.

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