This past week, the Wall Street Journal ran an article on the decline of tail docking in the dairy industry. It cited the recent resolution by the National Milk Producers Federation to alter its position and oppose routine tail docking except in cases of traumatic injury to the animal.
The NMPF now recommends the practice be phased out completely by 2022, giving producers time to implement on-farm management changes to address udder hygiene, parlor design, worker safety and other reasons commonly cited for tail docking. The American Veterinary Medical Association and American Association of Bovine Practitioners already oppose tail docking, and the practice has been banned in California; other states will surely follow.
Activists undoubtedly see the decline in tail docking as a victory. However, the NMPF resolution also represents a victory of sorts for the dairy industry by taking control of the issue, and shaping it to minimize its impact on producers. In a letter to NMPF members, President Jerry Kozak wrote, “Rather than give the animal rights community a tool with which to beat on dairy farmers, it’s more prudent to be proactive, and use our heads to handle this ourselves.”
What does this mean for dehorning? It means the industry may soon need to take control of this narrative – as the NMPF has done with the issue of tail docking – and shape it so it not only aligns with changing welfare standards, but allows producers time to adjust for minimum negative impact on their operations.
What do you think of the new NMPF resolution opposing tail docking?