PETA says these stanchions are referred to by the industry as a “rape rack” but the truth is that only animal activists refer to stanchions in that way. Let’s talk about what stanchions are really all about.
These cows voluntarily come to the “feed rack” (a real term we use). A lot goes on while the cow’s are at the feed rack. The stanchion can be set to lock around the cow’s neck so that she cannot walk away, but most of the day the cows are free to come and go as they wish. The cows in this photo are locked in the stanchions, yet they are still completely comfortable. They are locked for about an hour every morning so that we can come through and clean the beds, sort the cattle that need to be moved to a different pen, and artificially inseminate the cattle that are in estrus. Yes, cows are artificially inseminated at the feed rack.
We use artificial insemination for a multitude of reasons, but the biggest one is safety. Bulls are big and mean. They pose serious health risks to both the herd and the employees who work on the dairy. Cattle in a freestall barn can easily be injured if they are mounted by a 2000 pound bull.
Another reason we use artificial insemination is because it allows us to improve the genetic diversity of our cattle. Artificial insemination allows a dairyman to use the best bulls from all over the world. If we relied on natural insemination we would be limited to a just a few good bulls from within the herd or those that can be purchased locally. Improving the genetic makeup of the cattle has become much easier due to the adoption of artificial insemination. That results in a healthier herd and more milk per cow.
While PETA’s videos of artificial insemination may appear graphic, I can assure you that the cattle are not injured. Remember, we actually use the practice for the safety and wellbeing of the animals. Please don’t fall for it the next time you see a bogus PETA claim about a “rape rack.” They aren’t telling the whole story. Feel free to share this post if you wish.
Jason Mast is a fourth generation farmer born and raised in the Central Valley. He is a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate with a degree in Agriculture Science, and currently works alongside his father and brother to manage their dairy in Denair, CA.