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  • Clif Grant

Animal mutilations...no vet required

Updated: Jan 20

The total number of cattle killed in Northern Ireland slaughterhouses during 2019 came in at 455,220 individuals. This included 344,671 beef cattle, 99,321 dairy cows and 5,970 calves. (This last number does not include the tens of thousands of dairy calves who are shot on farm.)

According to the code of practice issued under the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland); permitted procedures which can be performed by a lay person in relation to cows are as follows:

  • Ear notching (cutting off a piece of the cow's ear for identification purposes)

  • Ear tagging (same as above, but involves piercing a hole through the ear to attach a tag)

  • Freeze branding of skin (for identification purposes)

  • Artificial Insemination (no anaesthesia required; this requires the farmer to put a arm into the cow's anus to hold her cervix in place whilst injecting semen into her vagina with the other hand)

  • Castration (no anaesthesia required if calf is less than two months old)

  • Embryo collection or transfer (no vet required for non-surgical procedures)

  • Ovum transplantation (no vet required for non-surgical procedures)

  • Dehorning (video)

  • Disbudding (video)

  • Nose ringing

  • Removal of supernumerary [extra] teats (a vet is only necessary if the calf is more than three months old)

Some people might be surprised to learn how many mutilations are routine to the lives of farmed animals and in fact, how very common they are!


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