In a letter issued on April 1st, 2013 and released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Ryan Gosling entreats Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, to use his position to stop barbaric dehorning procedures on dairy cows.
Gosling, who was informed about the issue of dehorning by PETA, goes on to describe the gruesome process in detail. For older cattle – after eight months of age is when the horns take root in the skull, “workers use sharp tools—including saws, sharp wires, or gruesome guillotine dehorners, which may also cut into the surrounding skin—to cut the horns out of an animal’s skull.” For a younger calf, a procedure called “disbudding” involves placing “a searing hot iron or applying caustic paste to create” to chemically burn away infant horns.
The wounds caused by these amputations can take three months or more to heal. And more shockingly, a survey of U.S. dairy farms found that only 12 percent of dairy farmers used a local anesthetic to block nerves before the procedure on dehorned calves, and only two percent used analgesia to lessen the pain after the procedure.
A National Milk Producers Federation spokesperson told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the practice of dehorning cuts down on injuries to humans and cows. And while hornless cattle naturally reduce the risk of injury to humans and other animals, the fiscal losses for farmers who attempt to sell bruised meat seems to be the more compelling reason dehorning continues.
According to the Australian industry site, FutureBeef, “bruising costs the Australian beef industry over $30 million AUD each year – equivalent to $4 for every beast slaughtered.”
Understanding this economic impact, Gosling’s letter suggests that “there is a simple and humane alternative: breeding for polled cows,” citing that animal welfare and agricultural groups have already recognized the benefits of genetically hornless cattle.
In closing, Gosling says, “there is absolutely no reason—and no excuse—for the cruel, unnecessary practice of dehorning to continue. Please do the right thing and take action today.” We couldn’t agree more.
You can read the full text of Gosling’s letter here, and marvel at his handsome stationery.