End Calf Torture

Dear Friends,

I’d like to share this information from a recent posting of the Not Milk daily column at www.notmilk.com by Robert Cohen, Ph.D. Adopting a simple diet and lifestyle changes can improve not only our health and productivity, but also society and our planet.

David Kagan, MBA

California's Attempt to End Calf Torture

On Friday (February 13, 2009), California State Senator Dean Florez introduced a bill that would end the barbaric and torturous dairy industry practice of cutting off cow tails. Chopping off a cow's tail 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. Cows may also use their tails in other ways, such as in social signaling, but to date we know little about this aspect of tail use.

Read these Letters to the Editor of Hoard's Dairyman from professional dairy farmers themselves:

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)

Dr. Ken Nordlund, DVM, responded:

"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 "however" people. I hope that you are not one of them. 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 a living and sentient creature, a cow dedicated to your dairy consumption, set aside to produce the cheeses and ice cream, yogurt and butter, cream cheese and milk 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 the horribly unethical practice of 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.

Robert Cohen