March 07, 2005

Bobtailed bovines -- an udder atrocity?

A California lawyer and rancher has taken up the cause of "tail docking." cow.jpg In a guest editorial in the New York Times, Nicolette Niman states,

I noticed that the cows' tails had been cut off and I asked [the dairyman's wife] why. "Well, it's just easier to milk them without their tails," she explained, adding, "My husband didn't like the idea, so I did it while he was away fishing for the weekend." I felt a warm rush of affection for her husband.

A cow without a tail, you see, is a sad sight. If you live in New York City, as I used to, you probably haven't been around a cow lately and therefore might not be able to picture just how odd a cow looks without her tail. So, try to imagine a golden retriever, a tiger cat, or a horse with its tail lopped off. Sad, right? At our cattle ranch, where the cows have their tails intact - the older cows' tails just reaching the blades of grass - I have even found myself admiring the beauty and grace of the cow's tail as she swishes it around.

Do you suppose that the dairyman's wife took advice from a bogus guru? Or might there be a humanitarian purpose for amputating cows' tails? Then again, perhaps it was just a method to distinguish her cows from those of the neighboring dairy:

A Tale of Two Cows
Matt and Mike went shopping for cows. When they each had found the cow they wanted, they were in a quandary. 'How will we tell which cow is yours and which is mine?' asked Matt. 'You crop your cow's ears, and I'll leave mine as they are!' answered Mike.

'No! That would hurt your cow!' said Matt, 'I'll cut my cow's tail, and you keep your cow's tail long.'

'No, no!' shouted Mike,' cows need their tails long for swatting flies!'

'I know!' exclaimed Matt, 'Branding! I'll put a big 'X' on the rear of my cow, and you put a big 'Y' on the front of your cow.'

'No, no, no! My cow is too beautiful to mark up like that!' yelled Mike.

'I've got it!' Matt said. 'You take the black one, I'll take the white one!'

Posted by Moona at March 7, 2005 11:46 AM | TrackBack