Policy provides for tail docking of cattle under guidance via telemedicine

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The AVMA has revised the policy “Tail Docking of Cattle” to provide for the procedure to be done under guidance of a veterinarian via telemedicine.

The AVMA Board of Directors, while meeting April 5-6, approved the revision to the policy as recommended by the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee.

"The AVMA opposes routine tail docking of cattle," according to the policy. "Current scientific literature indicates that routine tail docking provides no benefit to the animal, and that tail docking can lead to distress during fly seasons."

The policy previously stated, "When medically necessary, amputation of tails must be performed by a licensed veterinarian."

The policy now states, "Tails may be amputated on an individual basis when medically necessary by or under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian."

According to background materials, the Animal Welfare Committee believes the revision acknowledges the current state of veterinary medicine in rural communities with limited access to veterinary care. Working under an existing veterinarian-client-patient relationship, a veterinarian may teach a producer to perform tail amputation. When cost, time, or travel constraints prohibit the veterinarian from performing the procedure, telemedicine can be used to determine when amputation of a tail is medically necessary.

Related JAVMA content:

AABP opposes routine tail docking (June 1, 2010)