By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only


They call it docking. To me, docking is what I ineptly do
each time I try to return a powerboat to its berth after a
day of water skiing with my kids. To dairymen, docking is
the practice of chopping off a cow's tail.

This past year, two vegetarian groups refused to allow me to
speak at their so-called health festivals because their
major sponsors included cheese producers. There was some
controversy within the boardrooms of those decision makers
between the vegetarians who barred me, and the vegans who
have open eyes regarding the treatment of cows, and the
adverse effects of dairy products on the human body.

I am extremely critical of the dairy industry, for good
reason. Medical science points hundreds of incriminating
fingers of blame at milk and dairy being the etiology for
various illnesses. Hundreds of those converging lines merges
into one point. One obvious conclusion: milk does not do the
body good.

I make no friends when I offer sarcasm towards those
vegetarian conference planners. "Why not accept money from
Burger King and McDonalds," I ask, "instead of from cheese
producers like Kraft?"

If you have became a vegetarian for some misplaced sense of
compassion, please know that the dairy industry creates a
lifetime of torture for cows. There is no debate that an
animal born to be tomorrow's steak or burger suffers a
horrible death. Yet, compared to dairy cows, this gentle
creature's life is tolerable. He eats. He sleeps. He eats.
He sleeps. He then dies. Modern slaughterhouses attempt to
keep impending death a secret from these victims for as long
as possible, knowing that a cleanly killed animal is
profitable. Compassionate slaughter ramps have eased the
fear of slaughter for animals. Many times, the animal is
stunned before he realizes his fate. Horrible? Of course it
is, but the dairy industry is much worse.

Yesterday, I received my latest issue of Hoard's Dairyman,
the national dairy farm magazine.

If you use dairy products, you must know what you are
responsible for. The latest issue (1/25/02, Volume 147, No.
2) includes Letters To The Vet (page 90). N.L from Vermont

"We milk 72 cows...We have been docking tails for a couple
of years...We use an elastrator in the winter when fly
populations are the lowest (They cut off most of the tail
with this device. Imagine winding a rubber band tightly
around your finger until the blood no longer circulates. The
finger slowly dies, then atrophies. So does the tail.) After
about two weeks, we lop off the remaining tail. We dunk the
stump in iodine and watch for infection, keeping a close eye
on the wound until it heals. The wound takes a long, long
time to completely heal. My question is: Why not (cut) the
tails when the heifers are small? It could be done with
other stress-inducing procedures like dehorning."

Dr. Ken Nordlund, DVM responds:

"Tail Docking is controversial and has been banned in
England and some Scandinavian countries because of concerns
about pain, reduced ability to swat flies, and potential
problems with infection and wound healing. However..."

Folks, the list of "howevers" will break your heart, but to
Hoard's and its readers, it's business as usual.

I've run out of tolerance for the "however" people. I hope
that you are not one of them. Please re-read the letter from
N.L. and know that with the next bite of a slice of pizza or
Hershey's Kiss, you must also take responsibility for a
lifetime of pain and suffering to your bovine, a cow
dedicated to your dairy consumption, set aside to produce
the cheeses and ice cream, yogurt and butter, cream cheese,
and chocolate that you consume by being a so-called
compassionate vegetarian.

Robert Cohen author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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