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Forgotten Mothers

To give us the best possible start in life, Mother Nature created a special connection between mother and baby. This is of course not unique to humans — many animals express love and affection towards their kin and develop strong connections among family members also.

Pigs are one such animal. Scientists say that pigs are one of the most intelligent species outside the primate family — even smarter than dogs! Yet most of these highly sensitive and social animals are confined inside factory farms where even their most basic natural behaviours are denied.

Locked in tiny metal crates where they are unable to lie down properly or even turn around, hundreds of thousands of mother pigs in Australian factory farms suffer endlessly from boredom, stress and fear. For the sake of pork, bacon and ham, these animals are treated like 'breeding machines'. They cannot properly nurture their young and are helpless to protect their babies from having their tails painfully sliced off (through bone), or having their teeth cut — routine procedures that are conducted without any pain relief.

How can this possibly be legal? Exemptions in animal cruelty laws that are designed to protect the interests of factory farms have meant that pigs and other farm animals have been excluded from laws that protect dogs and cats from such cruelty.

Animals Australia has been at the forefront of the campaign for mother pigs, and with your support we have achieved some significant welfare outcomes. Early in 2014, the ACT government voted to ban some of the cruellest factory farming practices, including sow stalls and farrowing crates. Coles has met their commitment to make their home brand fresh pork products, including imports, 'sow stall free', and Woolworths is also addressing these issues. On the back of public campaigning, the Australian pig industry has agreed to restrict the use of sow stalls for up to 10 days per pregnancy from 2017 (legally they can be used for up to 16 weeks) and estimates some 2/3 of sows currently do not spend time in a stall at all.

But with sow stalls still legal and being used to severely confine mother pigs, and with the continued unrestricted use of farrowing crates, there remains much to be done. And these are just some of the many abuses inflicted on pigs in factory farms that need to end.

Animals Australia continues to campaign tirelessly to end the abuse endured by animals in factory farms and to inspire Australians to vote against cruelty when they shop. This Mother's Day we are celebrating motherhood everywhere by offering a beautiful gift for Mum that will help fund our ongoing work to create a kinder world for all mothers.

From the Animals Australia team, we would like to thank you for your support, and wish you a very happy Mother's Day.