20 Jul 2021

Dairy farmer fined for removing tails from more than 500 cows

4:20 pm on 20 July 2021

A Waitomo dairy farmer has been fined nearly $22,000 for removing dairy cows' tails.

Dairy cows in a milking facility in New Zealand.

MPI says it will prosecute where there is clear evidence anyone has docked cow tails - a practice banned three years ago. (file pic) Photo: 123rf

Peter Anthony William Muller was sentenced in the Te Kuiti District Court under the Animal Welfare Act.

A Ministry for Primary Industries manager, Gray Harrison, said Muller deliberately ill-treated the cows by systematically docking their tails, causing unnecessary and unreasonable pain.

The docking of cows' tails was banned in 2018.

Harrison said the tail is an important and sensitive part of the cow's body. "It's used to control flies, but it is also used in social signalling and interactions."

The prosecution stems from an inspection of Muller's Waitomo farm in December last year.

Of 592 cows inspected by animal welfare inspectors and a veterinarian, 534 had parts of their tails removed.

It was later established the tails of 64 of the cows had been docked in late July early August 2020 after Muller had been informed by a veterinarian just one month earlier that the docking of cow tails was banned.

"Where we have clear evidence of offending of this nature, we will take prosecution action," Harrison said.