Tail Health

Damage to cows tails has come to the forefront of people's minds with a number of recent prosecutions.  This is particularly true for broken tails.  If we talk about cow tail health there are two general areas,

  • Has the tail been docked, and if so does it comply with the painful husbandry procedures code of welfare (code)
  • Has the tail been damaged in any other way.

Under the Code, the minimum standard allows you to remove the last 2-3 vertebrae (bones) of the tail with a rubber ring at a joint.  This is to the level of the top of the switch.  However it is much better to trim tails, which is what the vast majority of our clients now do.

For the second point it isn't acceptable to cause harm to cows by damaging their tails.  The most obvious result of this is broken tails.  However it can result in tails that have swellings or damage but the tail is still straight.

Over the summer we have had a few of our clients get us in to score the tails of their herd.  This is where we create an electronic record (just like pregnancy testing) that records whether there is any damage to each cows tail.  We can then score the herd next year to see if there are any new cases.  The reasons for doing the scoring have been different but have included a new manager coming in and wanting to document the damage that was there before they started, through to a client who had identified that there were more broken tails in their herd and was very proactive about addressing the problem.  If you want to discuss the merits of tail scoring further contact your prime vet.