Animal Care

Tail Hygiene

No matter why you may choose to dock tails on your farm, tail docking on dairies is a potential public relations issue for many producers and processors. Consider the following:

♦ The National Mastitis Council (NMC), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) all have position statements against tail docking.

♦ The National Dairy FARM Animal Care Program opposes the routine tail docking of dairy animals, except in the case of traumatic injury to an animal. This practice is recommended to be phased out by 2022.

♦ Both Nestle and Kraft have committed to rollout of programs which only purchase milk from producers who no longer dock tails on their farms. This is a consumer-driven trend that is likely to expand in coming years.

Alternatives to tail docking exist (switch trimming or clipping, facility modifications).  As the issue of tail docking continues to gain national and international attention, you may wish to decrease your risk of negative publicity by considering another method of tail hygiene.

Hygiene Materials


Tail Trimming Tutorial


A comprehensive dehorning protocol should include:

♦ names and contact information of authorized dehorning personnel

♦ description of appropriate restraint

♦ description of appropriate method

♦ schedule for dehorning

♦ method of pain control

The schedule for dehorning should be frequent enough to ensure calves are dehorned before 8 weeks of age if cautery is used, or before 3 days if paste is used. Ideal pain control should include a local block at time of dehorning, in addition to post-procedure pain control such as an NSAID. The protocol should include pictures or diagrams, and translations should be available as needed for non-English speakers.


A comprehensive euthanasia protocol should describe the names and contact information of people who are authorized to perform euthanasia, methods of appropriate restraint, the euthanasia method, how to confirm death, guidelines for proper carcass disposal, and guidelines for record-keeping. The protocol should also include pictures or diagrams, and translations should be available as needed for non-English speakers.


MN Dairy Quality Cares Website

MN Dairy Quality Cares is a program for dairy producers, veterinarians and other dairy advisors who want to participate in a team effort to ensure that Minnesota dairies are using and documenting adherence to best practices in animal welfare, food safety and milk quality.