10 Reasons No Baby Animal Should Be Separated From Its Mother

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on January 26, 2015. Enjoy!

In many ways, the animal agriculture industry is built on breaking up families. Impregnated year after year only to have their babies repeatedly taken away, farm animals live a very different life  than the posters of happy cows and skipping lambs lead us to believe.

From calves being separated from their mothers, to lambs being slaughtered for meat, the pain and suffering is immense.

Regardless of species, the relationship between mother and baby is sacred, and breaking that bond is one of the most heartbreaking acts.

1. Mothers Begin Bonding With Their Babies Before Birth

It’s well known that unborn babies can recognize their mother’s voice – a fact proving that the bonding process between mother and baby begins long before birth.

2. A Mother’s Body Prepares for a Baby

When a mother gives birth, she produces milk to feed her baby. And when the baby is taken away from her, she is milked by machine instead. This process not only causes pain, inflammation and often infection, but also takes a toll on her body.

3. Babies Need to Nurse From Their Mothers


Photo Credit: David Merrett/Flickr

Nature planned everything to perfection, which is why only a mother is able to give her baby the best start by providing the necessary nutrients, vitamins and antibodies during the vital first few days of life.

4. Mothers Provide Comfort and Security

Without the comfort of their mother’s sound, smell and touch, newborns feel scared, alone and unprotected. Some industry practices — such as in the veal industry — leave newborn babies in solitary holdings, where they spend the entirety of their short lives until they are sent to slaughter.

5. Mother and Baby Experience Stress When Separated

During the first weeks and months of life, both mother and baby get extremely distressed whenever they are separated  — even just for a minute. At the sanctuary, we have seen this firsthand when a lamb has gotten lost around the corner of the house, the mother and baby begin frantically calling out to each other and running around in a panic until they are reunited.

6. Mothers Teach Their Babies Essential Life Lessons

Social skills, danger signals and feeding practices are all part of the learning process for youngsters. When they’re not influenced by their mothers during early development, they can miss out on vital life lessons.

7. Babies Who Stay With Their Mothers Are Healthier


Photo Credit: StateofIsrael/Flickr

Babies who are allowed to grow up with their mothers are always healthier. They have improved development, greater skills and better social relationships with other animals.

8. Milk Replacer Isn’t Natural

When we take babies from their mothers and give them milk replacement formula, it often causes sickness, diarrhea and a poor immune system later in life. It’s not uncommon for the symptoms of sickness and diarrhea to lead to death as, young animals are extremely vulnerable when they don’t receiving the natural milk their bodies were designed to thrive on.

9. Separation Causes Unimaginable Grief


Photo Credit: Stuart Webster/Flickr

Just as human mothers bond closely with their newborn children, so do farm animals. When this bond is broken, it causes unimaginable grief to both mother and baby. They become instantly anxious when they can no longer see each other, and this intense and desperate feeling worsens over time. Many farmers have admitted that they’ve seen sheep and cows bellowing for days about their stolen babies.

10. Mothers Suffer Immense Emotional Distress Year After Year

The short term distress caused by the separation of mother and baby is bad enough, but for the poor females trapped inside the farm industry, this intolerable action happens year after year, causing emotional withdrawal and depression in many older animals.

Photo Credit: Lalit Sahu/Unsplash


Marie W
Marie W8 months ago

Thank you for posting

Jetana A
Jetana Aabout a year ago

Humans are selfish and hard hearted. I've heard the distressed bellows of milk cows, very sad.

Marija M
Marija Mohoricabout a year ago


Mark Donner
Mark Donnerabout a year ago

Meat farmers and traders along with their USDA enablers are the most evil humans on this planet.

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vagaabout a year ago

it is so sad heartbreaking

Paulo R
Paulo Rabout a year ago

no it's so cruel. I drink almond milk or water. ty

Leo C
Leo Cabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing!

Peggy Peters
Peggy Petersabout a year ago

Did any one send this article to Seaworld?

Mark H
Mark Habout a year ago

America is a Suffering Machine.

Anne M
Anne Mabout a year ago

Every creature loves it´s babies, I wonder why it is not obvious or why some don´t care...:-(