California legislator proposes tail-docking ban for dairy cows

February 17, 2009 06:00 PM
 

Emboldened by last November's passage of Proposition 2, California's Senate Majority leader has proposed legislation that would end tail docking of dairy cows.

 

Dean Florez (D-Shafter) introduced the proposal at a news conference Feb. 13 at the California State Capitol in Sacramento. He was joined by Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

 

"With no added benefit to the safety of our food supply, tail docking is nothing more than needless animal cruelty which must be stopped,” Florez said.  "I believe the dairy industry will find that living up to California's claim of ‘Happy Cows' is a win-win with a positive benefit to them as well, as decreasing stress in dairy cows ultimately leads to increased milk production.”

 

Florez's district includes Kings County and parts of Fresno, Tulare and Kern counties, home to much of California's dairy industry.

 

Tail-docking refers to the practice of removing a large part of a cow's tail, largely to boost udder cleanliness and milking hygiene. It is not common in California.

 

According to Western United Dairymen Weekly Update, the tail-docking proposal, known as SB135, would prohibit tail docking of cattle except during an individual treatment, emergency, or operation performed by a veterinarian under the following conditions: 1) The animal has been adequately anesthetized to minimize the animal's pain and suffering during the treatment or operation; 2) It is done in such a way as to minimize the long-term pain and suffering resulting from the treatment or operation; 3) It is done using only suitable instruments; and 4) It is done in hygienic conditions.

 

Prop 2, which overhauls the confinement practices of the state's egg-laying, veal and sow sectors, takes effect in 2015. HSUS sponsored the measure.

 

Learn more about efforts by Florez and HSUS at:

 Read reports on tail docking from the University of California-Davis:

·         /files/Tail-Docking-Dairy.pdf

·         /files/DockingTails081602.pdf

 

Read why the American Veterinary Medical Association opposes tail docking: 

·         http://www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/tail_docking_cattle_bgnd.asp

 

Catherine Merlo is Western editor for Dairy Today. You can reach her at cmerlo@farmjournal.com.

 

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