How to Castrate and De-Horn Calves Compassionately

How to Castrate and De-Horn Calves Compassionately

„All breathing, existing, living, sentient creatures should not be slain, nor treated with violence, nor abused, nor tormented, nor driven away.“ – Mahavira * * * *

I was lured into a false sense of elation after reading an introduction to a dairy industry editorial that made the worldwide web rounds during mid September, 2014. There was a suggestion that a new spirit of animal welfare had entered the dairy and cattle-raising farm industry. The Laura Mushrush 09/11/2014 editorial began: „When it comes to castration and dehorning procedures practiced by beef and dairy producers, timing is crucial to insure animal welfare and effectiveness, says the new Cattle Castration and Dehorning Guidelines published by the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP).“

And then the bovine oxymoron immediately registered: How does one compassionately sever innervated horn buds from a calf’s head, and compassionately slice off his reproductive genital organs? The pain of realization made the deception even worse. Six years ago (2008), the American Veterinary Association (AVA) made this pledge regarding animal compassion, „Because castration and dehorning cause pain and discomfort, the AVA recommends the use of procedures and practices that reduce or eliminate these effects…“ While factory farm industry public relations executives want the meat and milk-consuming public to believe that compassion exists, the truth can be confirmed by reviewing farm equipment catalogues available to dairy and meat farmers. The evidence is included in Nasco Farm & Ranch catalogue, advertised as „The Largest Farm Catalog in the World.“

How to brand an animal? Pages 13-14 gives a farmer options. There’s the heavy duty Copper Branding Iron which offers more efficient branding because: „The heat is more evenly distributed and held in the iron for a much longer period of time…designed to reduce blotching.“ Reduce blotching? What a relief that must be to a cow who has just had glowing-red metal applied to her body while smelling the fumes of burning skin and flesh. Or, there is now a non-heat option. Simply freeze the branding iron in liquid oxygen. The growth of white hair at the branding site in three-four months will confirm that pigment-producing cells have been painfully destroyed.

Love those hog pipes and hog whips offered on page 57. You can be fashionable while whipping your hogs. The device comes in two colors. The hog pipe is „strong and durable“ and comes with a „leather wrist grip to help prevent dropping.“ While you’re shopping, pick up one of those fiberglass livestock sorting poles, or a „lightweight, high impact ‚Pro Stick‘ with a „pro-style sharp point.“ Page 61 offers an inexpensive de-horner ($61.45 plus shipping), which is advertised as: „Safe to use; little danger from kicking. 30″ handle lets you stand away.“ Page 65 offers devices that can be used for both farm business and farm fun. You can own a heavy grain „Leather Pig Slapper“ or a deluxe pair of „Animal Grabber Tongs.“

Oh, what thoughtful pig farmers we have. Page 67 offers a $95 pig tail docker that heats to 850 degrees Fahrenheit, and „cauterizes as it cuts.“ And, if those silly piggies decide to bite each other’s stumps, you can buy a can of „Pig Pax.“ Take your $11 investment and „Spray Pig Pax on the back of pigs or on the places being attacked (such as tails) and its foul taste will discourage pigs from biting one another.“ One of my favorite devices, on page 71, comes with a photograph of a pig laying on its back held tightly in a metal entrapment. You could be the proud owner of a „Comfort Castrator,“ and the good news is that no anesthetic is needed. I wonder if it comes with ear plugs to drown out the sound of squealing pigs. Those calf restraints on page 147 provide hours of pleasure for the user, while the high powered dehorning saw on page 149 is designed to delight both farmer and his children on a Sunday afternoon. Don’t even ask what the five different models of „balling guns“ sold on page 154 are used for. Page 159 offers the new „Elector Insecticide“ which is advertised as:

„A new and effective way to control flies and lice on lactating and non-lactating dairy and beef cattle.“ Some other curious devices make great Christmas presents (or Chanukah presents for Jewish dairymen).

My number one gift-giving idea is included on page 179, and it’s only $32.85. Is this the perfect stocking stuffer for your favorite dairyman? Buy one or more today: The Teat Tumor Extractor. „This medium-size, 4.55mm instrument is imported from Denmark and is very popular, especially among herdsmen in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It’s most important advantage over U.S. models is the double cutting edge.“ What warped definition of compassion can be extended to the evidence which exists of methods and tools still in use? * * * * „Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering…“ – Veterinarian’s Oath (beginning lines).

Robert Cohen


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