Cows Need Tails

Where Does the Industry Stand?

The industry agrees—tail docking is inhumane and unnecessary.

  • The American Veterinary Medical Association “opposes routine tail docking of cattle.”
  • Dr. Temple Grandin of Colorado State University says, “Docking has no beneficial effect on milk quality, udder cleanliness or incidences of mastitis or leptospirosis.”
  • Thomas Quaife, editor of Dairy Herd Management, says, “The cumulative body of research on tail docking speaks loudly. … The dairy industry should eliminate the routine practice of docking tails.”
  • Dr. Bernie Rollin of Colorado State University says, “There is absolutely no scientific basis for claims about the benefits of tail-docking. … Removing the tail is another example of attempting to deal with what is a problem of human management by mutilating the animal.”
  • The National Mastitis Council says, “The bovine tail has several physiological and behavioral functions. … Routine dairy docking provides no improvement … does cause pain and can lead to distress during the fly season.”
  • The National Dairy Farm Program’s Animal Care Reference Manual says the practice is “not recommended. … Scientific literature does not support anecdotal reports of benefits.”
  • The American Association of Bovine Practitioners “opposes the routine tail docking of cattle. … [It] provides no benefit to the animal.”
  • The National Milk Producers Federation “opposes the routine tail docking of dairy animals.”

In fact, the National Milk Producers Federation in 2015 moved up its voluntary phase-out date for the dairy industry to eliminate tail-docking from 2022 to 2017.

“On this issue, the science, the advice of our technical experts and requests from our dairy customers and consumers are all aligned,” said NMPF president and chief executive officer Jim Mulhern.

For more detailed information and all quote sources, read our detailed white paper»