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.
Additionally, practitioners should use two different methods to confirm death of the animal.
All employees should be trained to identify and report cows that may require euthanasia. Other specific duties, such as use of a captive bolt or firearm should be trained according to job description.
A comprehensive down cow protocol should describe the names and contact information of personnel who are authorized to evaluate and move down cows, appropriate methods to encourage cows to rise, situations when euthanasia is preferred before moving a cow, description of appropriate restraint, description of method to move cows, where to move down cows, and how to monitor their progress. The protocol should include pictures or diagrams, and translations should be available as needed for non-English speakers.
Down cows should be housed on a soft-bedded surface with good traction. They should be out of the elements and safe from other animals. Down cows should have constant access to feed and water, and a schedule should be maintained for care (feed, water, rolling, etc.). Down cows should be evaluated daily to determine progress and prognosis. There should be clear endpoints for when euthanasia is warranted.
All employees should be trained to identify and report down cows that they encounter during their work shifts (or anytime on the dairy). Other specific duties, such as evaluating or moving a down cow should be trained according to job description.
Best Practice: Dehorning & Tail Docking
(download Best Practice: Dehorning & Tail Docking)
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.
Minimizing pain and suffering requires thoughtful consideration of age at dehorning, method used, and pain control strategies.
AABP Castration and Dehorning Guidelines
UW Extension Disbudding/Dehorning Dairy Calves
All employees should be trained to identify and report signs of severe pain or discomfort in calves. Other specific duties, such as use of dehorning equipment, should be trained according to job description.
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.
Options for Trimming the Tail Switch
AVMA Policy on Pain Control for Dehorning