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PD POLL: One producer explains why tail docking should be permitted

PD Staff Published on 19 September 2012

YES, Tail docking in cattle should be permitted and the entire subject be left up to the owner and no one else – period!

First, my safety and the safety of my children and any other who may milk for me is paramount. In the past, I have been hit in the face with crud-covered tails – twice I have suffered scratched corneas and once I had a capillary in my eye ruptured, leaving the white part of my eye blood-filled and painful.

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I have also had people who wore eyeglasses that were hit by tails during milking, their glasses were mashed and tangled then thrown by the swinging tail.

Aside from that, while raw milk is illegal to sell – mainly because potential contamination from manure may leave pathogens in the milk that may make people sick – yet those of us who milk and are slapped in the face are at much greater risk of contracting these very same pathogens than those who would consume raw milk ... Why is it OK to put us at risk?

Second, cleanliness! Cows by nature are filthy animals – they don’t care how dirty they are. I don’t care how clean your operation is – they will get crud in their tails then fling it over their sides, backs, etc., regardless of whether they are in a barn or out to pasture. Clipping their tails takes a lot of time and has to be repeatedly done – docking settles the problem once and for all.

Now that my two main reasons for docking are listed – I will argue why docking is not cruel to cattle in any way, shape or form – and why it should be completely up to each farm to decide whether to dock.

I use an elastrator band when I dock – hands down, the cows are more irritated by their tails being handled than the band placed and, after the first hour or so, none of my cattle have ever exhibited any signs of discomfort. This argument of pain is complete bull! Castration causes much more irritation.

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Many farms I have seen have more than adequate ventilation to avoid fly problems, as well as other measures for cow comfort. For those of us who pasture, there are excellent dairy-approved, pour-on fly control products available which last up to two weeks. Aside from that, the argument of keeping tails for fly protection is weak – if there is a fly problem, all cows will be stressed, not just docked ones.

As far as veterinary groups being for or against any animal husbandry practice of any species, this must be said: Animal rights groups are targeting all forms of animal use and some of their attacks are subtle – deceive the public and infiltrate and indoctrinate people and groups involved with animals, which includes the veterinary profession.

While at a veterinary school a few years back, I saw this firsthand. Vet students who were against using animals for food or other purposes received their degrees – and these same ones are now trying to dictate animal husbandry practices by abusing their degrees and using unethical personal opinions to force their beliefs on animal industries.

This is not just about cows – it is about our rights and freedoms. Those who are against tail-docking have never and will never be in the position that I am in – they do not milk my cows day in and day out.

Yet, they pathetically feel they have the right to strip me of my rights and freedoms, incorporate their viewpoints in my life and tell me how to run my business. This should not be tolerated – they run their business as they see fit and should let others run their business as others see fit.

Those of us who do dock, for whatever reason, have the right to conduct our business as we see fit – and the argument of animal cruelty is completely unfounded; they are in much better comfort than those who have had their tails broken as it was in the past.

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Excuse my bluntness – but I and many others are fed up with intrusions into our lives and the outright attacks on our freedoms by various groups that want to force their viewpoints on everyone.

Colleen Michaels
Dairy producer
New Matamoras, Ohio

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