Cows is not a generic name for cattle: cows are slaves forced into prodigious manipulation of their maternal and procreative attributes, as victims in the intensified outputs that result in the tolls of production diseases and reproductive disorders. They deserve at least treatment and attention by professionals avowed to doing their utmost for the well-being of the animals in their care. "The kindly vet who tends his animal treats her; to the technician she is it". The difference tells. Retreat of vets into farm management and leaving intimate practices such as artificial insemination (AI) to technicians is reprehensible. Vets with wellies on and sincere in their professional vows are essential animals among the stock-in-trade on livestock farms. We plead the case in a DEFRA consultation.
VEGA's letter to DEFRA on amendments to legislation governing artificial insemination in cattle: Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.
1. We plump for option 3 in Appendix C and brook no excuses such as “significant practical and economic implications for the industry” (which implies in particular “the dairy sector”, from which beef and veal and many manufacturing products and sources of energy and co-products and by-products are derived, as well as nuisances in the forms of zoonotic and reproduction disorders), AI is now practised on species other than cattle, e.g. sheep, pigs, and poultry, and can be used on equines. These procedures represent malpractices arising from excesses of breeding and demands of production, as well as violations of good husbandry of the veterinary profession’s avowed mission to assert the well being of the animals, the further challenges of embryo transfer and cloning threaten.
2. Cattle deserve consideration at a level expected for pets and commensurate with the care and respect that humans deserve from their doctors. Cattle are under continual stresses, like most farm animals, and they enjoy none of the attentions and care that veterinary nurses might offer. The farming industry is damned with incompetence’s and cruelties manifest in recent disasters such as BSE and foot-and-mouth disease. Every opportunity must be seized to bring vets on to livestock unites charged with a purpose to reform all the aspects and standards that the FSA, for example is supposed to uphold. Degrading the veterinary profession’s mission is an unworthy price to pay for excessive outputs of meretriciously cheap meat and milk.
3. We recognise the persistence of traditional interventions such as tail docking and farriery that might be regarded as mutilations, but they can be effectively “curtailed” and put on a professional standard, as is occurring with the docking of dogs’ tails. AI is an invasive operation needing skill and wide experience that must engage a well versed practitioner in matching the compatibility of semen and its introduction with the outlook for the gestation and parturition and maturity of the animal. Some of these reservations (and others) may attend “natural” mating.
4. The considerations should also extend to the welfare of the bulls kept at stud. In particular, electroejaculation should be banned; and the quality of the semen must be assessed by standards of hygiene and prevention of contamination by bacteria and agents of TSEs.
5. We also recognise the need in special therapeutic conditions for AI. For this purpose DEFRA’s approved training courses should be included as part of the instruction and preparation of vets for professional practice and competence.
6. Instructions subject to legal standards of examination must be stripped of adjectives, adverbs and other, qualifying words or phrases that blur the cruelty associated with infliction of suffering, or distress when the discomfort or shock is not entailed entirely for the animals’ benefit. Words such as “minimized”, “if possible”, “avoidable”, “unnecessary” etc unduly advantage wrong doers and lawyers, and complicate litigation.
7. The language of legislation, whether or not intended for veterinarians or lay persons, should avoid professional jargon. The judge in the McLibel trial clarified a useful point in the word “excitement”, which might not connote to lay people the adverse effects in animals of annoyance, aggravation, distress, rage and fear.