Yes, we are here!

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we have been educating folks about the benefits of self-reliance for 50 years. That includes researching and sourcing the best books and products to help individuals master the skills they need in times like these and beyond. Our online store is open and we are here to answer any questions you might have. Our customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 8a.m.-5p.m. CDT. We can be reached at 1-800-234-3368 or by email. Stay safe!

National Milk Producers Federation Opposes Tail Docking on Dairy Cows

Humane Farm Animal Care, sponsors of the Certified Humane program, recommends implementing the new National Milk Producers Federation dairy cow tail docking guidlines in two years and not the proposed 10 years.

| August 6, 2012

  • cow head
    The practice of tail docking on dairy cows, which originated in New Zealand in the 1980s, prevents cows from switching flies and communicating with herd members.
    Photo by Fotolia/Studio Porto Sabbia

  • cow head

The following article is posted with permission from Humane Farm Animal Care.

One of the most egregious welfare issues in dairy production is the practice of tail docking. The practice of tail docking started in New Zealand in the 1980s and soon spread to North America. The reason it gained in popularity was because farmers claimed it improved their ease of milking the cows, their ability to keep cows clean and their ability to keep the cows' udders healthy. This made managing dairy cows easier for the farmers.

Unfortunately, no one thought of the impact on the cows. Cows use their tails for many purposes, including swatting flies and communicating with other cows. When a cow’s tail is docked it is painful. There is no welfare benefit to the cow for undergoing this painful procedure, and when her tail is docked she can’t swat flies and she can’t communicate with her herd mates.

The Certified Humane program has never allowed tail docking. The decision to prohibit tail docking was made by our scientific committee, led by Dr. Carolyn Stull. Dr. Stull had done a lot of research on the issue of tail docking and its purported benefits, and concluded that there was no reason for dairy cows to undergo this painful procedure. Dr. Stull was one of four animal scientists who helped found Humane Farm Animal Care, and helped write the original HFAC Animal Care Standards. Dr. Stull is the Chair of our Scientific Committee.

Unfortunately, tail docking has been a widespread practice in the US commercial dairy industry. The dairy industry trade association, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), has never prohibited tail docking. However, on July 23, 2012, the NMPF Board of Directors approved a resolution to oppose tail docking of dairy cows in their industry guidelines, the Dairy FARM program. Their decision also aligns their FARM program with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP). The Board voted to approve the following language:

"NMPF’s National Dairy FARM Animal Care Program opposes the routine tail docking of dairy animals, except in the case of traumatic injury to an animal. This practice is recommended to be phased out by 2022. Switch trimming is recommended as a preferred alternative. Acknowledging existing animal cruelty laws, NMPF opposes efforts to prescribe specific on-farm animal care practices through federal, state, or local legislative or regulatory action."

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me