Why I care about the back end of a dairy cow

September 11, 2009 at 3:52 pm Leave a comment

I have a friend who collects cows. Little, ceramic, black and white cows. One time she and I were driving somewhere and went by a dairy.

“I love cows!” she says. “Aren’t they cute?”

Imagine my surprise when I recently mentioned that since she loves cows, she might, as a California resident, want to call the Governor and encourage him to sign S.B. 135, which bans dairies from sawing off the the tails of dairy cows — a procedure done without any concern for the pain of the animals and without benefit to their value as “production units.”

She said, “Oh, how sad! But it must be necessary or they wouldn’t do it.”

Um, no.

Here’s what the AVMA says about the practice:

The AVMA opposes routine tail docking of cattle. Current scientific literature indicates that routine tail docking provides no benefit to the animal, and that tail docking can lead to distress during fly seasons. When medically necessary, amputation of tails must be performed by a licensed veterinarian.

Bailey Norwood, a professor of agricultural economics of Oklahoma State , writes:

The California legislature recently passed a bill to ban the docking of dairy cattle tails. I was surprised when I read that over 80% of dairy farms in a study used tail docking, as I had worked on two dairies when I was young and was completely unaware that anyone did this.

A few months ago I spent time trying to find out why people were docking tails, and I could not identify any reason other than the nuisance of dealing with tails when milking. I could not find any health reason for doing so.

The only people who seem to have a problem with this bill are those who automatically oppose anything supported by the Humane Society of the United States, and those who believe animals on industrial farms aren’t anything more than machinery, and as an “owned object” may be treated in any way that makes the food they produce as inexpensivee as possible, no matter the cost to the animals, the environment and the quality and safety of the food produced.

I disagree. I think the true costs of factory-farmed food is never factored in, which means I support sweeping changes to the practice of industrial agriculture.

But this isn’t even the case here. There’s NO REASON why dairy cows can’t keep their tails, so let’s at least let them have that.  Not only should they not be subjected to having them hacked off without pain-management, but also they need their tails to keep themselves comfortable.

If you “love cows” — even if only in a cute ceramic form — have a heart. Ask the Governor to sign SB 135 —email or call (916-445-2841) today.


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