Tails are an important signalling device for cows as well as being useful for swatting flies in the heat of summer. Tail damage is painful for cows and should be avoided at all costs.
Annual tail audits are used to monitor tail damage. It’s important to track changes and identify how and why any new tail damage occurs. This information is then shared with the team to identify any changes that may be needed in animal handling practices.
Cambridge Vets carried out our first tail audit in July 2020 during BCS assessments. Seven cows out of 407 (1.7%) had tail abnormalities, and only one had a change of status at the August assessment. Our second tail audit in July 2021 showed that five out of 410 cows (1.2%) had tail abnormalities, with four changes of status in the September assessment.
We carry out these assessments prior to calving and prior to mating each year alongside our BCS process. We aim to have a change in status of less than 2% annually. The results give us assurance that our handling and infrastructure are providing the best outcomes for cow welfare.
At Owl Farm cows receive a tail trim once they are calved. We do another one mid-season and then again at the end of the season to ensure they go into winter with tidy tails.
We run the heifers through the shed multiple times before calving to ensure that they are used to the milking process; and use the Wrangler to restrain animals when carrying out any animal health treatments.
Click here to find out from DairyNZ more about tail care and tail audits: Tail management