Search icon

Motherhood in cages

News Section Icon Published 20/05/2021

To highlight the reality of life for sows living on a factory farm, Dutch filmmaker Eline Helena Schellekens and editor Kate Morgan, have released a new, short film – ‘Motherhood’, which was commissioned by Compassion.

‘Motherhood’ comes after the award-winning short film ‘M6NTHS’, from Eline Helena Schellekens, which told the story of life on a factory farm from a piglet’s point of view.

Half of UK sows suffering in cages

The 6-minute film is shot entirely from a mother pig’s point of view, without any comments or voice-over. This unique perspective shows the animal as an individual, capable of feeling pain and joy, yet more than 50% of sows suffer in cages on farms across the UK.

As the footage – filmed on farms in the UK, Belgium and France – reveals, whilst imprisoned in farrowing crates, sows are only able to stand up or lie down until their piglets are weaned and taken away, usually at around four weeks of age. These sensitive, intelligent animals are unable to express natural behaviours. They can’t walk, let alone build nests for their piglets or forage for food. Instead, they bite and chew the bars and scrape at the floor in frustration.

A nation of animal lovers?

“’Motherhood’ challenges us to reflect on how we treat our farm animals,” says our Head of UK, Dr Nick Palmer. “It’s despicable that 50% of UK sows are still suffering in cages. As a nation of animal lovers, it’s high time we stopped treating animals like machines and started seeing them for what they are: sentient, inquisitive, and capable of feeling pain and pleasure. We urge the Government to bring about an end to the cage age and to usher in a new era in farming of which Britain can be truly proud.”

A pivotal moment

The release of ‘Motherhood’ comes at a pivotal moment for the UK. Last week (12th May), Defra published its new Action Plan for Animal Welfare which sets out the steps needed to create a more humane, healthy, and sustainable food and farming future. This includes a proposal to examine the use of farrowing crates for pigs and cages for laying hens.

We will continue to campaign and advise the Government to ensure that it takes action to finally End the Cage Age.

Help us to End the Cage Age

Around 200,000 UK mother pigs are forced to give birth in cages and raise their piglets through bars. You can be the voice for UK factory farmed animals by calling on the UK Government to End the Cage Age for all British farm animals.


You are using an outdated browser which we do not support. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).