Thursday 14 March 2013

Live Lambing Event? No Thanks

Having given birth, I can say that the one thing that would absolutely and totally have ruined that experience for me, would have been an audience. Holy crap. I can’t imagine anything I’d want less than a flock of total strangers staring at my nether regions while I embark on the momentous journey of childbirth.

I mean really, if giving birth should be anything, it’s private. I don’t even know how the One Born Every Minute mums do it. Just the thought of cameras recording me would cause my cervix to clamp shut.

It’s not just us humans who like a bit of privacy in the birth department; animals like to keep these things private too. Pregnant cats will find somewhere private and safe to give birth in, and they’ll prepare it in the days running up to the big day. Domestic cats might choose a sock drawer, and feral cats might opt for a cosy barn. Whatever the location, you can bet it’s been selected because it offers safety, warmth and privacy. Those were three of the top things on my birth plan too.

I’m not trying to say we are identical to cats, and I’m not trying to anthropomorphise animals. But what I am trying to do, is point out that birth is a natural thing and is mostly run on instinct. This is true for humans and animals alike. Just because I wanted privacy during childbirth, doesn’t necessarily mean a cat would want privacy. But, if we observe the behaviour of pregnant cats, and the fact that they select private places to give birth in, then we can assume they want privacy too. And I’m sure most of us can agree that, at the very least, we can offer it to them, just in case.

But, sadly, when there is money to be made, a respect for the needs of living things is often one of the first things to go. I received an email the other day, telling me about a live lambing event near where I live. Apparently, my daughter would just love it.

I mean, I’m sure she would love to see the sheep, but she also loves throwing my credit cards in the road, so she doesn’t always get to do the things she loves.

I had never heard of live lambing before. I actually can’t believe it’s a real thing. But it is. Every year, the general public is offered the chance to go along and watching live lambing. At a cost, of course. And, for some bizarre reason, people - parents in particular - flock to these events, often paying around £5 for an adult ticket and £3 per child. These events boast about attracting crowds of over 2500. If we assume half of these visitors are adults, their admission charges alone add up to £7500 over one weekend, and they usually run over two.

£15,000 isn’t a bad profit for exploiting labouring mothers.

Natural as it may be, birth can be a scary experience. For new mothers, it is often fear of the unknown. For these sheep, it is also the added fear of feeling that the baby may not be safe when born, thanks to the hundreds of prying eyes only a few metres away.

Second time mums tend to fear the known - remembering the scary bits and dwelling on them throughout the pregnancy. For the pregnant ewes, they may remember other births. They may remember the other lambs they have carried, birthed and had taken away. Human or animal, all mothers grieve the loss of their babies.

The £15,000 profit made from lambing, is on top of the profit for the wool and the meat that these lambs will become. Let’s not gloss over that, it’s a farm. Those lambs aren’t cute animals, they aren’t little miracles, they’re commodities to be profited from. By attending these events, you are turning a natural and beautiful event - birth, mother and baby meeting for the first time, into a freakshow run for profit.

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