To determine whether tail docking would influence cow cleanliness and udder health in a free-stall system, we monitored milking cows after half the animals in a herd were docked. A sample of 223 docked and 190 undocked cows (reducing to 169 and 105 over the study as cows were dried off) were monitored for 8 wk. Cow cleanliness was scored in two areas: along the spine, and the rump adjacent to the tail at 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 wk after docking. Cleanliness was evaluated by counting squares that were soiled (0 to 14 on a 5- × 17.5-cm grid) and judging soiling severity on a scale from 0 (clean) to 3 (thickly caked). Udder cleanliness was scored with the same scale (0 to 3) and by counting the number of teats with debris on them. Udder health was assessed by measuring SCC of two milk samples and the number of animals diagnosed as mastitic by the on-farm veterinarian. No treatment differences were found in four measures of cow cleanliness, two measures of udder cleanliness, or udder health. However, cow cleanliness did differ over time, and analysis of a subsample of cows illustrated individual differences in cleanliness.
Tucker, C. B., Fraser, D., & Weary, D. M. (2001). Tail docking dairy cattle: effects on cow cleanliness and udder health. Journal of Dairy Science, 84(1), 84-87.