A Tale of Tail Docking

Cows' tails are probably sacrosanct to cows. Heck, if I had a tail and someone wanted to cut it off, I wouldn't stand quietly. (Well, maybe I might, given that not many humans have tails.) Cows tails are useful though, especially when flies and other pesky insects abound. But, cows also swish their tails through manure, posing a sanitation challenge come milking time, and they swat at farmers, milkers, and children. The feeling of getting hit by a cow tail is sometimes similar to getting hit by a baseball bat, with a lingering manure smear. Docking or banding the tail so that it can't harm farm workers (and can't swat flies) is one way to avoid getting hit by a swinging tail and research has shown that milk is kept cleaner as well.  On the other hand, a lot of research has been done on whether this practice is beneficial to the cow, and the answer is always the same: No. As Veterinarian Bill Stone summarized, "It doesn’t result in cleaner udders or less mastitis, and tail docking slightly impedes fly control on the back half of a cow." Views on tail docking by those involved in milk production have been changing as well.  Two professional veterinary associations have carefully worded positions saying that if it must be done, it should be done

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One thought on “A Tale of Tail Docking

  1. Thanks for broaching this subject. Its not an easy answer. In my opinion tail docking of cows is wrong even though I get the argument. I can only control what we do on this farm and in the past if you got a shitty tail across the face your management needed to be changed. We routinely washed our tails cause it kept cows cleaner, keep us cleaner and it served to whack the flies better. Cows are just prettier with tails. Ever see many fancy cow pictures in journals with out a tail. I don’t think Maggie Murphy would be too pleased. God made them with a tail for a reason. My 2 cents.

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