Max is curled up, curled up very tightly, in his box, in which he has to live in solitary confinement. Of course, he doesn’t have a name, just a number. It doesn’t pay to name him. He’s just a calf, plus a male that will soon be dead or somewhere on a truck shipped for slaughter. I gave him his name to give him a remnant of dignity, as if he had been someone in the middle of an industry in which it is only something. Something that will make money or not. He doesn’t bring any. He’s worth € 8.49 in this industry. The feed that he needs costs more, this cheapest milk replacer. Even that is still too expensive. His value is measured according to his usefulness. He doesn’t have one, not in this system, but for his mother he is the world. He curls up so that the cold goes away, especially that of loneliness. All he wanted was to be with his mother. Sucking, not only to satisfy hunger, but also because it is good for you. But he has to be there, all alone. He doesn’t understand why. He wanted nothing more than to be with his mom as it should be, nothing more than to live.
Fridolin lies exhausted on the concrete floor. He would only have to crawl a little further, drag himself to get to the heat lamp, but he has no more strength. His mother would also be nearby, but she is lying in an iron shed and cannot move, cannot encourage him to drink, cannot warm him. She is there, and yet she is not. He closes his eyes and dreams of the nest that his mother would have built for him and his siblings, had they had the opportunity, they would have been free or at least not in this cage. But she is locked up here. She would have sung something to them. But she lies immobile, trapped in the same desperation as her babies. Fridolin closes his eyes. He doesn’t make it, neither to his mother’s breasts nor to the heat lamp. It won’t be long before he won’t open his eyes anymore. He wanted nothing more than to be with his mom as it should be, nothing more than to live.
Tim looks around. He has just hatched from the egg and is now looking for his mother’s protective wing to crawl under. But there is no wing and no mother either, just hundreds of other small, yellow fluff balls that had just worked their way out of the protective shell to discover the world. But there is no world to discover, just captivity, artificial light and abandonment. Soon they are put on a conveyor belt and sorted on one side and the other on the other. “The good ones in the potty, the bad ones in the croup”, which in this case means ordering the girls to lay eggs who are the good ones, the boys in the shredder who are the bad, useless, unnecessary ones. Tim is one of these and will be dead again after a few hours of life. He wanted nothing more than to be with his mom, the way it should be, nothing more than to live.
All of this happens every day. Millions of babies like Max, Fridolin and Tim fall through the rust of usefulness analysis. I think of Max when you drink your milk, because that’s why he’s not allowed to be with his mom and has no value. After all, he doesn’t give milk. I think of Fridolin when you bite into your ham roll because it has to live on these slatted floors, because the ham has to be as cheap as possible. He’s got to put some meat on. I think of Tim when you behead your soft egg, because that’s why he’s not allowed to be with his mom and has no value. He will never lay eggs. I see it. You don’t, because you can’t tell from the milk, the ham, and certainly not the egg, how much suffering is involved. You only see the finished product. Those who could see it, those in production, no longer notice it. It’s too commonplace and mundane. Death too. And they are just babies.