Important queue management problem

A regulation restricting any shortening or removal of tails came into effect on October 1, 2018.

Keep tail hair trimmed to prevent tails from getting caught in equipment and to prevent mud buildup that can lead to tail injuries. Switches can be trimmed using hand shears, scissors or electric trimmers.

Avoid using tape as an identification tool; if the tape is dirty and left on, it can damage the tail.

Many farmers have their veterinarian do an annual tail audit to monitor tail damage.

It is important to track changes and identify how and why new tail damage is occurring. Farm teams are the best group to identify where the challenges are and find solutions.

Annual tail checks are most useful once heifers enter the herd or after changes in the farm crew, to create a baseline to identify any handling issues. Having accurate records also lets you know if tail damage is happening on-farm or off-farm grazing.

Check that your veterinarian uses the National Tail Scoring Standard. This will ensure consistency in scoring and reporting so you can compare your herd’s results year over year, no matter where you operate or which vet you use.

It is important to record damaged tails once a year so you know if new injuries occur. If you don’t save and compare, how do you know you have a problem or work to fix it?

Reporting a potential tail breakage issue within your farming business may seem like a confrontational step, but it shows you care about your animals, it protects your reputation, and it’s the right thing to do.

If you suspect you have a broken tail problem on the farm, call MPI on 0800 00 83 33. An animal welfare inspector will work with you to arrange a tail assessment meeting during milking. They will let you know if there is anything you need to prepare before the visit. Records such as tail audits and inventory management policies and training can be helpful.

Investigations are conducted on a case-by-case basis. MPI can talk to all members of your farm team. It is important that MPI can obtain as much information as possible to make informed decisions to protect your animals.

If you would like to speak to a member of the DairyNZ animal care team for a confidential discussion about your situation, you can find your local animal care extension specialist here.

Breaking the tail is a violation of animal welfare law and is probably serious misconduct.

follow the rules

Regulations require that any shortening of damaged tails be carried out by a veterinarian and pain relief administered.

If you see a damaged tail that needs to be shortened:

  • take out the cow
  • Call your veterinarian
  • Record the injury
  • Discuss after care and pain relief with your veterinarian
  • Investigate the cause to avoid damaging other tails.


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