Chopping Off Cow Tails
An Animal Rights Article from


Robert Cohen,
August 2008

They call it docking. To me, docking is what I ineptly do each time I try to return a powerboat to its berth after a day of water skiing with my kids. To dairymen, docking is the practice of chopping off a cow's tail.

This past year, two vegetarian groups refused to allow me to speak at their so-called health festivals because their major sponsors included cheese producers. There was some controversy within the boardrooms of those decision makers between the vegetarians who barred me, and the vegans who have open eyes regarding the treatment of cows, and the adverse effects of dairy products on the human body.

I am extremely critical of the dairy industry, 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 merges into one point. One obvious conclusion: milk does not do the body good.

I make no friends when I offer sarcasm towards those vegetarian conference planners. "Why not accept money from Burger King and McDonalds," I ask, "instead of from cheese producers like Kraft?"

If you have became a 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 to be tomorrow's steak or burger suffers a horrible death. Yet, compared to dairy cows, this gentle creature's life is tolerable. He eats. He sleeps. He eats. He sleeps. He then dies. Modern slaughterhouses attempt to keep impending death a secret from these victims for as long as possible, knowing that a cleanly killed animal is profitable. Compassionate slaughter ramps have eased the fear of slaughter for animals. Many times, the animal is stunned before he realizes his fate. Horrible? Of course it is, but the dairy industry is much worse.

Yesterday, I received my latest issue of Hoard's Dairyman, the national dairy farm magazine.

If you use dairy products, you must know what you are responsible for. The latest issue (1/25/02, Volume 147, No. 2) includes Letters To The Vet (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 a lifetime of 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.

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