Yesterday we were met with the first day of spring and it’s this time of year that we start to take notice of the cute baby animals.
Growing up I would visit a place called white post farm and pet the new born lambs and hold the little chicks. Something that I now look back on and wish I had made the connection that this place is an actual farm - Dur Claire!
So why the sudden boom in babies and what happens to them?
Naturally sheep give birth every spring, after a five-month pregnancy, but many farmers now pull this forward, so the sheep give birth prior to spring. This is so they can ensure the lambs are between 3-6 months old in time for spring – why? To be inline with Easter when ‘spring lamb’ is added to the menus across the country.
I still find it hard to believe that the picturesque setting of a lamb leaping around its mother isn’t the reality of the situation because it has been so heavily embedded in my brain during childhood. Children are told the miracle of birth and shown cute animals to cuddle at farms. They are completely misinformed of the reasons for the lamb’s arrival.
Typing in my search engine ‘why are lambs born in spring’ to see what would pop up, only proved this very point. A children’s ‘educational site’ claimed that the sheep have their lambs “in late winter or early spring as they also need to eat lots of fresh grass”. They fabricate the truth further and say that the sheep “can have up to four lambs at a time but mostly have one or two”.
This lacks truth and without truth can you really call it education? Animal Aid explain very well that sheep are naturally designed to produce a single lamb per pregnancy and that even twins would be very rare, but genetic selection and intensive feeding has resulted in twins and triplets are now the norm which of course causes many complications and risks to the mother during pregnancy and birth.
I don’t expect anyone to paint the complete picture of this cruel industry to a child, but to not simply state that these lambs are born to be eaten lacks respect and is total disregard of their responsibilities as educators. Of course, it isn’t this one single site, most educational programmes and the schooling system fail to be honest with children. Heck – even my own parents weren’t honest with me. I get it – we don’t want to upset children, but doesn’t this just cement that they already know it’s wrong to take an innocent babies’ life for taste and tradition?
Some farmers are still following the sheep’s natural gestation season and others are prepping for Easter payday. Either way, all of these lambs will be slaughtered. Some between 3-6 months, over 11 years earlier than their intended life expectancy and some will be kept alive to follow in the footsteps of their mothers which is almost a like for like to the dairy industry. The sheep are artificially inseminated, give birth, have their babies taken away from them to be sold at market at days old, or taken after a few months for slaughter and then the cycle repeats itself until the sheep is ‘spent’ and she then is slaughtered for low grade meat, often used in pet foods.
We can still embrace the spring time miracles, but instead of going to farm attractions, go to animal sanctuaries that offer open days and choose to be a part of something that is beautiful, and stays beautiful. Subscribe to the blog for more posts like this and follow Grow Up Vegan on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Happy Spring!