Tail Scoring Research
May 2023

Damaged tails – how big is the issue?

Recently, EpiVets has undertaken a study with VetNZ to figure out the prevalence of tail deviations, trauma and shortening on New Zealand dairy farms.

This study was done on 92,348 dairy cows from 200 randomly selected farms across nine regions of New Zealand. All cows present at a milking or pregnancy testing event were tail scored. Tail problems were recorded as deviated (bent), shortened (tail appearing shorter than normal) or trauma (all other problems like cuts).

Tail Damage with X-Ray


The prevalence of tail deviations was 9.5% (range0.9-40.3%), for trauma it was 0.9% (range 0-10.7%) and shortening was 4.5%(range 1.3-10.8%). The prevalence of deviation and trauma varied between region; the median prevalence of deviations ranged from 6% in the West Coast, to 13% in the Waikato, and the median prevalence of all tail damage from 7% in the West Coast to 29% in Southland.

What next?

Stay tuned for the next update where we will talk about risk factors.