According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the practice of tail docking in the dairy industry began in the early 1900s in New Zealand as a method to reduce the incidence of leptospirosis in milking personnel. It continued as producers cited a variety of benefits, such as improved comfort for milkers and animal handlers, enhanced cow and udder cleanliness, reduced incidence of mastitis and improved milk quality.
The most commonly used method for docking tails in dairy cattle is the use of elastrator bands. Usually performed on pre-fresh heifers or calves near weaning, the elastrator band is applied to remove one-third to two-thirds of the tail. Other methods of docking include using a cauterizing docking iron, use of emasculators and surgical excision.