Business Beat
2:07 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Should dairy farmers cut cow tails?

This cow is getting a hair cut on her tail so her milker won't get whacked in the face with manure.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

To dock or not to dock? That is the question.

Well, that’s the question some Midwest dairy farmers are debating now that the National Milk Producers Federation has taken a stand against the widespread practice of cutting off cow tails -- or tail docking. It started decades ago as a method to stop the spread of disease because the tails often becomes slimed with manure. Recent studies suggest the practice isn't necessarily effective, but many dairy farmers still employ the technique to avoid a face full of slimy cow tail.

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5:50 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Here's the short story on cow tails

Scott Poock, veterinarian for the University of Missouri Extension, demonstrates an alternative to cow tail docking at Foremost Dairy: trimming the switch off of a cow's tail.
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Many people who haven’t stepped foot on a dairy might think milking a cow is a sort of Emersonian back-to-the land moment, where a milker bonds with his or her cow while communing with nature. Just milk her for a while and voilà: fresh, creamy milk. But the truth is, milking can be a very dirty job.

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