As publishers, we appreciate a good action photo as much as anyone. However, the time has come for all media outlets to join together and cease publishing photos of dairy judges slapping champions. Not only could the slap be construed as animal abuse, or at least a sign of disrespect by consumers, one day a cow will slip and fall when reacting to the surprise that comes with that "honor." And who will bear the financial responsibility if she is injured?
Banning use of slap photos would be just the start of correcting this unnecessary showring practice. It would be an important first step as there certainly is some truth to the insinuation that the media does propagate its continuation. Knowing these types of images are popular, up and coming judges think this practice is cool and want to join in the action. As for our part, we have joined with World Dairy Expo in not publishing these photos in its communications.
Looking at the big picture, slapping a champion cow does not show these bovine beauties the respect each one has earned as being top in their respective breed shows. Cows routinely are handled in a calm manner, and the unwanted slap startles animals and, in some cases, could cause them to injure themselves, other animals or the people nearby. Could any judge defend this choice of action during his or her set of reasons to an urban consumer? That would be an uphill challenge.
Let's look at the situation another way. Would a judge be willing to slap the Most Valuable Player (MVP) who just won the Super Bowl? Absolutely not. That same standard should be in place for the best cows on Earth.
Dairy cattle shows should be about the heifers and cows, not the judges. Jumping and running should be left to athletes, not cow handling. As for the slap that goes with naming champions, it has to go. In addition to media outlets no longer running the photos, dairy shows and breed associations that certify judges should strongly discourage the practice.