April 5, 2013 by Carrie Mess
Dear Mr Gosling,
Yesterday when I woke up early in the morning before milking cows, I was alerted to your letter, which I took to be on behalf of PETA, to the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) in regards to the practice of dehorning cattle. As a dairy farmer who has often been on the business end of a dehorner, I was quite interested to hear what you had to say about the practice. So far as I can remember and IMDb tells me you have never had the experience of dehorning in your life, even as part of a role you were playing. I mean, I am sure you are a great actor. I’ve seen The Notebook, not really my style but I don’t feel the need to write to the Academy of Motion Pictures to ask them to ban the painful experience of Nicholas Sparks from the big screen. I hear you were great in that one movie where you did that thing, I’m sure you know which one I’m talking about. I don’t get to movies very often, probably more often than you get to farms though. I mean, you must be pretty great for People magazine to name you Sexiest Man Alive. Plus you have that whole “Hey Girl” meme thing going on and I only have this one… You might assume that I am going to tell you that you are wrong about dehorning and polled genetics. I’m not. I can’t tell you that dehorning is a practice that is painless and doesn’t phase our calves. I have never met a dairy farmer who has enjoyed having to dehorn calves. It’s not a fun job. It is an important job to protect the people and the other cows from horn injuries and we do everything in our power to make dehorning as painless as possible. I wrote about it HERE, you should read that post.
I am not going to tell you that polled genetics aren’t a valid option to erase dehorning. But we do need to look at the facts. First of all polled genetics are fantastic. I love that I can use polled bulls on my cows and eliminate the worst job on the dairy farm. But I also know that at this point polled bulls can only be a part of the solution to eliminating dehorning.
Back in high school we learned about genetics. The gene that determines if an animal will be born without horns is dominant, which means that if you bred a polled animal to a horned animal, you will have a 50/50 shot at getting a polled animal. But here’s the problem, the polled gene has to come from somewhere. Right now the pool of animals we have to select from with the polled gene is small. While I may love using polled bulls, I am not cool with breeding a cow to her uncle or her half brother just to skip the dehorning process. I don’t think that inbreeding is the solution to this problem. Eventually the polled genetics pool will be large enough that all cows will be able to take a swim without bumping into their cousin but we are not there yet. I mean I don’t think you’re asking dairy farmers to have inbred cows, are you?
So, in the meantime how about you stick to making movies that I probably won’t watch and I will keep taking care of my cows. No hard feelings. I’m sure your agent thought this whole PETA thing sounded like a great idea but you might want to let your agent know that PETA has the same amount of respect out here in the real world as the National Enquirer has in your world.
For more information on polled dairy cattle please check out dairybullsonline.com