When an undercover video of a dairy farmer dehorning a calf highlighted the pain and inhumane suffering this procedure caused the animal, people were not only disturbed, but felt sick watching this video. One man decided he would do something to stop this cruel practice of pressing a hot iron into the scalp of a calf and burning away the tissue that would eventually become its horns.
In the video that went viral back in 2010, it showed the calves in pain and moaning and once the procedure was done, they collapsed in the dirt from the pain. This practice is done to protect the handlers of these dairy cows as well as the other cows in the herd from getting gouged by the horns, according to Mother Jones on July 27.
Scott Fahrenkrug was a professor at the University of Minnesota when he first saw that video and he decided he was going to do something to stop that procedure across the board. After talking to people, he found out that it wasn’t just him who was extremely disturbed by the dehorning practice.
To his surprise even the dairy farmers were hating having to do this and they’ve been under extreme pressure from the animal rights groups as well as their customers like General Mills and Nestles to stop this. There are cows out there that don’t grow horns, but these hornless creatures aren’t great milk producers.
Today Fahrenkrug is the CEO of a Minnesota company called Recombinetics. This company “has developed a way to edit the genes of farm animals to change specific traits and they can edit out the trait that makes cows grow horns,” according to The Business Insider.
In 2012 geneticists discovered the bovine DNA that controls a cow being hornless. Fahrenkrug specializes in a genetic modification technique, which is newly developed and known as precision gene editing.
He has the know-how and the technology to easily rewrite the DNA in the embryo of a dairy breed of cow. This would create hornless cows that give a lot of milk. This would stop the barbaric dehorning of the calves and save massive pain and suffering.
This opens another can of worms as there are folks out there that will see this as playing God, genetically modifying animals. This may also get some friction when it comes to the federal regulators who have never deemed food OK for human consumption that comes from a genetically modified animal.
This isn’t a venture that is going to make Fahrenkrug a lot of money, it is a venture that will let him sleep better at night if he can do away with this cruel procedure of dehorning calves. Fahrenkrug is confident that even the people who don’t currently like the idea of genetic modification will come around once they see the benefits.