Target: U.S.D.A. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
Goal: To put an end to the cruel practice of amputating portions of the tails of dairy cattle.
Tail docking in cattle is a procedure by which up to two-thirds of the cow’s tail is amputated. The amputation may be accomplished by cutting the tail with a sharp implement or by using a tight rubber ring to restrict blood flow to the tail until it withers and falls off. These procedures are commonly done without anesthesia and, in addition to the initial pain of tail loss, can cause lifelong suffering for cattle.
Proponents of tail docking claim that the amputation provides several benefits to both the cow and workers who might make frequent contact with the animals’ soiled tails. They believe that the cow stays cleaner and maintain better utter health from the docking of the tail and some have claimed that cows with docked tails produce better quality milk. Sadly, these claims come from on-farm observation and have little or no scientific research backing them.
Based on scientific research cows with docked tails demonstrate clear signs of distress and pain as a result of the procedure. They lose their fly avoidance capabilities resulting in more frequent pain and irritation from biting flies gathering on their hind quarters and the open sores resulting from the bites. Signs of distress observed in tail docked cattle include frequent standing, side to side head motions, and constant foot tapping. Tail docking can result in the formation of abnormal growths of nerve fibers at the stump which can lead to chronic pain. Lambs, chickens, and more recently calves with docked tails have been known to suffer from swelling, infection and the onset of diseases including tetanus and gangrene.
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Humane Society of the United States all publicly oppose the practice considering it a cruel and unnecessary mutilation. Researchers at the University of Colorado and the University of Wisconsin and experts within the cattle producing and veterinary communities have stated that tail docking is of no benefit to dairy cattle and that the pain and distress caused by the practice is simply not reasonable. The is no evidence that tail docking improves the cleanliness or utter health of cattle and the periodic trimming of the longer hairs at the end of the tail is an effective and humane way to improve sanitary conditions for both cattle and farm workers.
The practice of tail docking dairy cattle is currently outlawed in several European countries including Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, and the U.K. and very recently in the state of California. Please ask the U.S.D.A. to propose legislation that would ban this type of animal cruelty in all U.S. states.
Dear Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), of the United States Department of Agriculture,
The routine practice of tail docking dairy cattle in the U.S. needs to come to end. The University of Colorado, the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program, the University of Wisconsin, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Milk and Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Center have all either discouraged this practice or have questioned its ability to improve sanitary and health conditions on dairy farms.
There is no scientific data present to indicate any value to be gained from the painful removal of a large portion of the tail of a dairy cow but there is sufficient data available to demonstrate the physical and psychological distress that cows suffer as a result of the procedure.
This practice has been banned in several European countries with no observable detriment to the dairy industry within those nations and in California, banning tail docking in dairy cattle has provided a successful model that may be replicated in other states.
We ask that you please consider supporting legislation that would ban tail docking for all U.S. dairy cattle.
[Your Name Here]