Horn Talk Blog

How to Talk to a Reporter or Consumer about Dehorning.

Posted by Dave Lucas on Thu, Jul 19, 2012

ReporterUndercover video is the latest tactic used by animal rights activist groups to pressure farmers into abandoning common management practices. One major dairy product manufacturer is being targeted for accepting milk from farms where cows are dehorned. If your operation is among the majority that practices dehorning, be prepared for a call or visit from the media seeking comment on this issue. A calm, measured response can go a long way to help consumers see beyond the sensationalism, and paint a much more realistic portrait of animal agriculture. These points can also be used in farm social media to connect directly with consumers.

Key points to keep in mind when talking about dehorning:

  • Dehorning is necessary for human and animal safety.

  • Cow horns are dangerous for dogs, horses, other cows and all animals and people on a farm.

  • Many calves are dehorned early in life, before horn buds have a chance to attach to the skull. This procedure is called “disbudding.”

  • Early-age disbudding is preferred to minimize discomfort.

  • For older animals, dairy farmers and veterinarians work together to ensure horns are removed safely and humanely.

  • Dairy farmers are highly motivated to take very good care of their cows. All dairy farmers work regularly with veterinarians to keep their cows healthy.

  • Some cattle are bred hornless, but this is not practical for dairy cattle. It takes many generations (decades) to ensure cows inherit the proper traits, and may adversely affect the animals’ overall health.

Anyone can be victimized by an undercover video campaign. This excellent article posted on Dairy Herd Network, Are you ready for the cameras?, offers practical suggestions for dealing with the aftermath of a public relations crisis, including lining up resources and support to help your operation survive. It also offers great advice for any producer ready to step up and proactively present a more balanced viewpoint on animal agriculture.

Topics: Disbudding, Videos, Dehorning