Silence of the Lambs

The sheep look so contented as they graze around the villages, their little cheerful lambs run and jump around. But don’t be fooled, because in the UK alone 4 million lambs die within their first days of life. In Australia, the sheep capital of the world, with 135 million animals, it is considered “normal” for 20 to 40% of lambs to die, usually from cold or starvation.

В UK and The West, people basically do not eat lamb, they eat the meat of young lambs. Sheep usually give birth in the spring, but competition among farmers has meant that sheep have to give birth earlier, at the end or even in the middle of winter. If the farmers are among the first to sell “lamb meat”, they will get more money. After many thousands of years, wild sheep have evolved in such a way that they ovulate and interbreed in the fall, and they give offspring in the spring, when the winter frosts have already passed and grass has begun to grow. It’s the same with farm sheep. However, many farmers give sheep hormones, so that the sheep can become pregnant in the summer, and not in the fall. Sheep interbreed much earlier, and give offspring in the most frosty period of winter. Lambs are born in barns, but very soon, despite the weather, they are released into the field. Farmers also give sheep a special medical preparation so that the sheep give birth to two or three lambs, while in natural conditions a sheep gives birth to one. A sheep has only two teats, so the third, extra lamb is immediately taken away from its mother and sent to the market. Frightened, deprived of maternal affection and care, newborn lambs await their fate, shivering from the cold. Farmers push and kick lambs to see how fat they are, and they are sold for just a few pounds each. Some are bought by gourmet restaurant owners, but if you understand, please explain to me how anyone can look at these bleating, frightened creatures and see in them “Today’s special dish is a young lamb roasted with garlic and rosemary.” Now farmers are concerned about only one question – how to ensure that a sheep gives birth to three lambs every two years. To do this, farmers will have to distort the natural instincts of the animal and control them with hormonal drugs. This will mark the beginning of livestock rearing by industrial methods, and for a long time, we will not see as many livestock in the fields as before. The animals will make their home in one big, crowded, disgusting barn. Sheep living in the highlands, such as the Pennines or the Welsh Mountains, live freer and more natural lives. They are treated differently, but competition will bring change here too. Farmers are driving more and more cattle into the mountains, and there is not much room for grazing. In order to save money, farmers are reducing the number of shepherds tending their flocks and spending less on fodder in the winter. Due to the fact that fatty meat is no longer in such demand as before, through selective breeding, farmers are trying to prevent sheep from developing subcutaneous fat. Along with this, in winter, the sheep do not get the food they need to generate heat and keep warm when the icy winter winds blow. Although more and more sheep are being killed by this kind of intervention, farmers are raising more and more of them and there are now around 45 million sheep in the UK alone. Unfortunately, they have an unhappy future. “I came to visit my parents and helped them take care of the sheep during the birth. The newborn lamb was very beautiful. The next day, the farmer brought us a leg of lamb, it was somehow unnatural, wrong. All day I could not come to my senses and come to terms with this – first to help a new creature come into this world, and then so heartlessly take his life from him. I became a vegetarian.” Jackie Brambles, the first woman to appear on a daytime broadcast on BBC radio.

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