Unhappy cows, the power of YouTube, and a loserly D.A.’s office  »

An undercover video exposé of a New York dairy farm made the rounds on YouTube earlier this week. I haven’t watched it (even reading the description was monumentally depressing), but it apparently featured tail-docking. Tail-docking is the process of cutting off a calves’ tails, ostensibly to prevent them from flicking manure (and spreading disease) when they grow up.

Now, besides the fact that they wouldn’t BE flicking their own filth into each others’ eyes if they weren’t all jammed in like Lincoln Logs, this is uncool for several reasons. First, it hurts a lot (no pain meds). Second, it doesn’t work (studies prove it!).

Worst of all, though, can you imagine being a cow without a tail—unable to flick away flies? It would drive anyone nuts. In fact, it makes these cows are so miserable that it may even interfere with their milk production.

The people who produced the video showed it to the Cayuga District Attorney’s office, and tried to get them to investigate the dairy farm. The Cayuga D.A. wussed out:

Assistant District Attorney Diane Adsit said in an email that many of the actions shown in the videotapes “are commonly accepted practices used to protect both animals and farmers on large dairy farms.”
"While shocking to look at, these practices are not necessarily illegal," Adsit said. If an investigation by the local SPCA leads the organization to file animal-cruelty charges, "we will prosecute anyone so charged," she said.

If you read the stomach-turning description of what actually went down, it’s clear that she either hasn’t seen the video or doesn’t know what she’s talking about. We’re not just talking about a little rough treatment here.

The good news is, New York State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal announced the introduction of a bill to ban tail-docking (Yay!). It’s already illegal in California and most of Europe; hopefully New York will be next.

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