Think of a picture of a typical dairy cow and most people will not imagine an animal with horns. It is shocking to learn that nearly all cows are born with tissue on their heads that nature intended to grow into horns, but horns are removed by farmers using hot irons, caustic chemicals, blades and hand saws.
PETA and actor Casey Affleck are bringing awareness about the issue in a new video titled, “Dehorning: Dairy’s Dark Secret.” The campaign is calling to stop the cruelty of dehorning and for humane regulations to be put into place.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in 2010 that “more than nine out of ten dairy farms practice dehorning.” Without horns dairy cows kept in close quarters are less likely to injure each other.
PETA’s concern about the practice is that sensitive horn buds are removed most often in the United States on young calves only a few weeks old, without anesthesia or painkillers.
“Cows and calves struggle desperately during dehorning,” Affleck said. The video shows animals “thrashing, tossing their heads, rearing up, switching their tails, bellowing, and collapsing to the ground” as workers burn off or cut out the delicate horn tissue.
Lyndon Odell, CEO of Willet Dairy explained that dehorning is a “standard practice in agriculture” and done to protect both the animals and employees. “If you have an animal running around with a sharp horn, they can gore other animals that are in the same group with them or they can injure an employee that’s working with the animals.”
While the practice may be commonplace, countries such as Australia, Denmark and Sweden require an anesthetic be used on the cows; especially when dehorning is done on adult animals whose horns have grown into their skulls.
PETA states farmers are fully aware of the pain inflicted on the cows and believes one solution would be to breed for “naturally hornless cows.” Until that time, they are calling a boycott of dairy products.
Take Action: Stop Cruelty Of Cattle Dehorning
Photo Credit: Lorenkerns