Deliberate torture of animals takes place under the pretence of scientific experimentation, religious ritual and sport. Routine practices in animal husbandry also involve mutilation in the form of castration of male animals, dehorning, detailing and muelsing, to name the more common.
It was reported in 1993 that the front legs of live lambs are being routinely cut off in the womb, or as they protrude from the mother, to protect the lives of their more valuable mothers in difficult births. One estimate is that more than 50,000 lambs are killed in the UK in this way each lambing season. Lambs most at risk are those born singly to lowland ewes, which have been bred small to consume less food, but also to have twins or triplets. Danger arises when the multiple birth techniques fail and the ewe conceives and carries only a single lamb. Without competition in the womb, it often grows too large and ultimately gets stuck in the birth canal.