Stolen Babies, Suffering Mothers: The Exploitation of Female Animals
A Meat and Dairy Industries Article from


LCA Last Chance for Animals
December 2017

Victims of some of the most violent and pervasive forms of female exploitation continue to be ignored. When we encounter products of animal exploitation—meat, eggs, and dairy—we have a choice: compassion, or malice.

Meet Clarabelle with her calf, Valentine, a devoted mother who was rescued from the dairy industry while pregnant and only hours from slaughter.

cow and calf
Clarabelle and her calf Valentine

In order to produce milk, Clarabelle endured a brutal yearly cycle of forced impregnation and childbirth, only to have every one of her babies devastatingly dragged away from her immediately after birth. When Valentine was born shortly after Clarabelle’s arrival at a sanctuary, she carefully hid her in the tall grass, as far from caregivers as possible. Each day, Clarabelle moved her daughter to a new hiding spot, vigilantly protecting her precious baby from humans, who she gravely feared would take her newborn away once again.

Clarabelle and Valentine will spend their lives together, but millions of other dairy cows—who all feel the same unwavering love for their offspring—are deprived of such happy endings. Instead, these mothers will face inconceivable physical and emotional trauma in an industry that objectifies and controls every aspect of their lives—from the exploitation of their bodies, to the destruction of deeply cherished maternal bonds. When a cow becomes exhausted after years of anguish and reproductive servitude, her body is no longer profitable. She will be disposed of—dragged to slaughter, commonly while still pregnant. Though unspoken, the assumption is implicit: these animals are milk machines that exist for human pleasure, and we can use them however we see fit. The inherent cruelty required to produce dairy—on both factory farms and “humane” farms—is utterly incompatible with the most fundamental feminist principals.

milking carousel
Commercial dairy "milking carousel"...

Victims of some of the most violent and pervasive forms of female exploitation continue to be ignored. Like so many other discussions on injustice and objectification, concern for nonhuman victims is markedly absent. As one animal advocate aptly states, humans have “victimized animals to such a degree that they are not even considered victims; they are not even considered at all.” While virtually all animals raised for food are subjected to a hellish life and terrifying death, female animals face unique depravities and prolonged suffering—kept alive as long as their reproductive systems can be profitably exploited.

The objectification of female animals is not restricted to the dairy industry. Hens, whether in battery cages or free-range farms, are mutilated, confined, and often starved to induce unnaturally accelerated egg production. Similarly, most mother pigs live the entirety of their lives in extreme confinement, never able to see the light of day, as they are relentlessly inseminated year after year to maximize production. Like dairy cows, they suffer immensely and pointlessly—living and dying in agony for products that are not only entirely unnecessary, but actually harmful to human health.

pig and piglets
Mother pig and piglets in gestation crate

We love animals; we say it all the time. It is due time that our actions align with this sentiment. When we encounter products of animal exploitation—meat, eggs, and dairy—we have a choice: compassion, or malice. Will we willfully ignore unfathomable cruelty, choosing to be the reason why motherhood is destroyed and countless animals are victimized? Or will we bear witness to animal suffering and stand against the needless torture of mothers who value their life, freedom, and family as much as we do?

As the public beco mes increasingly aware of the objectification and extraordinary abuse of female animals, many people are refusing to contribute to this atrocity—coming to realize that when it comes to pain and suffering, species membership is morally irrelevant. By adopting a compassionate vegan lifestyle, animal lovers can stand on the side of justice and put values into action. This simple choice requires so little effort, but has the power to create monumental change for animals. 

Also read Breeding Slavery: Why Veganism Should Be Considered a Feminist Issue

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