Animal Writes
From 26 September 2004 Issue

Chopping Off a Cow's Tail
By Robert Cohen - [email protected] 

Oops! The dairy industry has blundered again by giving up another one of their dirty secrets. The following information was published in the September 10, 2004 issue of the national dairy farm magazine, Hoard's Dairyman. On page 558, we find this revealing letter from a California dairy producer:


"When Cows are Abused

Dear Editor,

The article 'When cows are abused' in your August 10, 2004 issue, page 484, should be required reading for anyone raising a farm animal.

The author concludes, 'All our public relations efforts are in vain if an animal rights horror happens in our dairy community and only PETA speaks out.' Amen. In the nearly 17 years that I have dealt with the animal welfare and animal rights set of issues, I have witnessed far too many occasions upon which agriculture has given its power away to the activists by not taking care of industry blemishes in-house. Downer cows are a prime example: tail docking is another. Science clearly (not 'sort of') doesn't support docking cattle, and yet farmers continue to do it. Must we, again, wait until we're forced by public policy and an embarrassing media expose to do the right thing? I hope not."

Ria De Grassi


Thanks to Hoard's editors for tipping us off. Any TV producers or investigative newspaper reporters out there looking for a story of widespread animal abuse?

Chopping off cow's tails is a common practice in the dairy industry. Why do dairymen do such a thing? So that they will not get swatted while milking their cows.

Let me tell you why cows have long tails. The tail was invented by an architect who recognized that the part of the bovine structure located just below the tail attracts many different varieties of the common and not-so common fly. A tail is nature's perfect built-in fly swatter. Without her tail, the cow lives an uncomfortable life of being eternally pestered and bugged.

Cutting off tails is called docking. To me, docking is what I ineptly do each time I attempt to return a powerboat to its berth after a day of water skiing with my kids. To dairymen, docking is chopping off a cow's tail.

Which brings me to Boston. I have been permanently banned from speaking at the annual Boston Vegetarian Food Tasting because I openly criticize their sponsors, cheese producers. The conference is October 23, 2004. If you should go, please avoid the animal products sold by their major sponsors, Annies, Moosewood, Lightlife, and Smart Foods. Few people have the courage to criticize vegetarian societies and animal groups for the hypocrisy of serving dairy products at their conferences. To do so is to not get invited back. You know what? Animals must die so that AW, AR, and Vegetarian conferences can promote an event to keep animals from dying. Makes sense to me. That's sort of like killing Iraqi children today with smart bombs so that they cannot grow up to kill each other years from now with dumb bombs.

I make no friends when I offer sarcasm towards vegetarian conference planners. "Why not accept money from Burger King and McDonald's," I ask, "instead of from cheese producers?" Promote cheese and you promote the most painful form of animal torture. Taking money from cheese producers to support a vegetarian conference is akin to walking the streets and trading sexual favors for dollars.

I have a track record of being extremely critical of the dairy industry and those who promote cheese, for good reason. Medical science points hundreds of incriminating fingers of blame at milk and dairy being the etiology for various illnesses. Hundreds of those converging lines merge into one point. One obvious conclusion: milk does not do the body any good.

If you have became a cheese-eating vegetarian for some misplaced sense of compassion, please know that the dairy industry creates a lifetime of torture for cows. There is no debate that an animal born only to be tomorrow's steak or burger suffers a horrible death. Yet, compared to dairy cows, this gentle creature's life is tolerable. She eats. She poops. She sleeps. She eats. She poops. She sleeps. The tailless cows cannot defend their rear flanks. When the time to die finally arrives, it is a painful relief to a lifetime of torture.

I found a letter regarding tail docking in the January 25, 2002 issue of Hoard's Dairyman. On page 90, N.L. from Vermont writes:


"We milk 72 cows. We have been docking tails for a couple of years. We use an elastrator in the winter when fly populations are the lowest. (They cut off most of the tail with this device. Imagine winding a rubber band tightly around your finger until the blood no longer circulates. The finger slowly dies, then atrophies. So does the tail.) After about two weeks, we lop off the remaining tail. We dunk the stump in iodine and watch for infection, keeping a close eye on the wound until it heals. The wound takes a long, long time to completely heal. My question is: Why not (cut) the tails when the heifers are small? It could be done with other stress-inducing procedures like dehorning."

Dr. Ken Nordlund, DVM responds:

"Tail Docking is controversial and has been banned in England and some Scandinavian countries because of concerns about pain, reduced ability to swat flies, and potential problems with infection and wound healing. However..."


Folks, the list of "howevers" will break your heart, but to Hoard's and its readers, it's business as usual.

I've run out of tolerance for the "however" people. I hope that you are not one of them. Please re-read the letter from N.L. and know that with the next bite of a slice of pizza or Hershey's Kiss, you must also take responsibility for extreme pain and suffering to your bovine, a cow dedicated to your dairy consumption, set aside to produce the cheeses and ice cream, yogurt and butter, cream cheese, and chocolate that you consume by being a so-called compassionate vegetarian.

In 1870, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity."

I blame tail docking on farmers. Once you are made aware of tail docking, and continue to support the consumption of milk and dairy products, you become part of the problem. There is complicity.

You become the enemy. Animal Rights, Animal Welfare, and Vegetarian groups by accepting money from dairy manufacturers, or by serving and promoting their products, support tail docking. Shame on them.

Go on to The Question of Elephants in Zoos
Return to 26 September 2004 Issue
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