BEEF Daily

Actor Ryan Gosling Slams Dehorning In PETA Campaign


Hollywood celebrities could play a role in determining how beef producers care for their cattle.

Since when did Hollywood celebrities become experts on animal husbandry? Whether it be a public relations stunt or the need for an endorsement deal, it seems many celebrities are willing to team up with the radical animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The latest celebrity PETA has added to its long star-studded list of advocates is actor Ryan Gosling, who has a beef with dehorning in the cattle business.

Tell me it isn’t so! Not Ryan Gosling -- the heart throb who starred alongside Rachel McAdams in ”The Notebook” -- THAT Ryan Gosling? When he dumped McAdams a few years ago in favor of Eva Mendes, another PETA spokesperson, I was certainly disappointed. But, now it looks like Mendes is influencing his personal values as well.

Keep in mind that Gosling and Mendes are out busily promoting their latest movie, “The Place Between The Pines,” so any visibility -- even the crazy kind that comes from PETA – is regarded as a good thing. A little extra buzz for the couple will certainly sell movie tickets, and many are calling one of Hollywood’s leading gentlemen, “a hero for the animals.” He's got the looks, the acting chops, and now he's standing up for animals. What’s not to love, right?

Gosling may truly believe he's standing up for something noble, but I think we have the opportunity to teach him the facts and, in turn, make him think twice about his PETA endorsement.


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In a letter to The Huffington Post, Gosling writes, “Dehorning is a painful process in which calves have their horns gouged out or sensitive horn tissue burned out of their heads. There is absolutely no reason -- and no excuse -- for the cruel, unnecessary practice of dehorning to continue.”

While the article focused on dairy cattle, let’s not forget that dairy cattle are beef cattle, too. And, Gosling is addressing a management practice used by many ranchers.

If I had a chance to sit down with Gosling, I would skip the autograph request and tell him the truth about dehorning instead.

First, the use of dehorning in the beef cattle business has been greatly reduced over the years as cattlemen have gone to using polled bulls in their breeding programs, even going as far as to use homozygous-polled bulls. However, a horned calf still does need to be dehorned, not only for the safety of other animals but the people who work with those animals. And if the procedure can be done early in the calf’s life, the procedure is much less stressful on the animal.

The American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) recommends this when dehorning: “The AVMA recognizes that castration and dehorning of cattle are important for human and animal safety when cattle are used for agricultural purposes. Because castration and dehorning cause pain and discomfort, the AVMA recommends the use of procedures and practices that reduce or eliminate these effects. These include genetic selection when appropriate, and use of approved or AMDUCA-permissible clinically effective medications whenever possible. Studies indicate that preoperative use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents and local anesthetics reduce pain and distress associated with castration and dehorning.

“Both dehorning and castration should be done at the earliest age practicable. Disbudding is the preferred method of dehorning calves. Local anesthetic and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be considered for other dehorning procedures. Research leading to new or improved techniques that reduce or eliminate pain and distress associated with castration and dehorning, or development of viable alternates to castration and dehorning, is encouraged.”

I’m not saying dehorning is a pain-free procedure, but rest assured that cattlemen strive to use the best techniques to minimize animals' discomfort and speed their recovery. Although most of our calves are polled, we do have to dehorn the occasional calf, and it’s not a rare occurrence to see them belly up to the creep feeder immediately after the dehorning has been done. It seems these young calves recover very quickly from the procedure.

Before I torch my DVD of “The Notebook,” I’m hoping Gosling redeems himself. I think it’s time for him to dump both PETA and Mendes and get back to the business of making good movies. And, Ryan? If you’re reading this, you can come tour my ranch anytime. I promise, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that us cowboys aren’t as bad as PETA makes us out to be.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you believe most celebrities actually are knowledgeable about the causes they adopt? I'd like to read what you think. Leave your thoughts in the comments section.



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Discuss this Blog Entry 22

on Apr 6, 2013

Great work, Amanda. It amazes me how someone who makes a living making us believe he is something he's not can also be an expert on animal agriculture. Of course, it is simply a safe bet for him. He is a great actor, and has a huge following of fans, and now he is even more wonderful because he is concerned about animals. It doesn't matter if he truly believes what he says, as long as he says it, he is more wonderful.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 8, 2013

Please correct me if I misrepresent your logic: Because Mr. Gosling is not a farmer and/or is affiliated with a marginal animal advocacy group, his argument(s) that dehorning is painful and immediate steps (i.e. anaesthesia/analgesia and polled genetics) should be taken mitigate this - is somehow illegitimate? I simply fail to the logic in this type of reasoning and the support it seems to get.

Moreover, I am extremely eager to here a coherent justification for the 82% (NAHMS, 2007) of U.S. dairy farms that do NOT provide any form of pain relief whatsoever when dehorning in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence that it is painful and practical mitigations are readily available, inexpensive and in use all over the world.

Animal agriculture is in trouble when they criticize legitimate concern about issues they, not Ryan Gosling, should be addressing themselves.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 7, 2013

Get where both sides are coming from...

Just think it's funny how humans believe they have this right to do these things. Not excluding myself from the statement. But contrary to popular belief, we are not the most important creatures on this planet.

misplacedtxn (not verified)
on Apr 8, 2013

Uh, yes, man IS the most important creature on the planet. That's the problem with "popular belief". We are made in God's image and man is to rule over all creatures of the earth. Genesis 1:26

Mathena (not verified)
on Apr 8, 2013

I don't see anywhere where it says people don't have the right to do this? Well sep for the few "enlightened" people that think they know better somehow. But I go by the Bible, and common sense for my rules, and it says nothing about how to treat animals.

But i'm interested what specie is more important than humans, poop flinging monkeys?

John R. Dykers, Jr. (not verified)
on Apr 9, 2013

Homo Sapiens may not be the most important creature, but, if not, which creature is? Humans are certainly currently dominant, but in constant competetion with viruses and bacteria and insects.
Most importantly we have not learned how to manage ourselves in harmony with one another or in harmony with nature.
We certainly minimize dehorning by breeding polled. I admit to 30 years ago intentionally delaying dehorning untill yearling so I could distinguish scurs from true horns and their variations more accurately so as to better select breeding stock. Even with a big old Delee dehorner, the dehorned animal was promptly recovered as if a splinter had been pulled quickly; the problem occassionally was bleeding, and we avoided the procedure untill cold weather. Animals left horned bullied their polled herdmates. Horned animals fighting for pecking order would often knock the other's horns off! This is true with other horned animals in nature.
Our herd is mostly polled now, but one of the challenges of breeders is to get the same growth in polled as horned cattle.

Mary Ann (not verified)
on Apr 7, 2013

Good job, Amanda! It is funny to me that many people do not understand animal agriculture, and the dehorning and castration are for the benefit of animals as well. It takes much of the aggression towards other animals out when they are castrated and dehorned. On our ranch we band the calves as they are born and they never realize they have been castrated. Many times they go right back to sucking. When dehorned young, the stress is much less. Then as they are older they do not have to worry about another animal hooking them off feed or whatever. Do we not do things to humans that cause stress as well, but is for the benefit of the person. I for one do not like shots, going to the dentist, having pre- cancers burned off, etc, however; it is in my best interest..

on Apr 8, 2013

Very well said, Mary Ann. Thanks for sharing your personal story. I agree that the procedure is comparative to a dentist or doctor visit -- not our favorite thing to do, but beneficial to our health. Thanks!

PETA people hater (not verified)
on Apr 8, 2013

To anonymous, as distasteful as you may find this procedure, to say humans are not the most important creature on the planet is quite amazing. Which species does rank there in your opinion? Perhaps we would be better off with carnivores ruling us?
I know of no one who takes pleasure in this very infrequent procedure and if you would take but a minute of your time (in between dodging animals hunting you down for their next meal as we are in your opinion not capable of being the ruling class so these sprang to the front of the line) to study the markets, any horned animals are priced at a discount so already those breeds are deselecting them selves from the nation's cow herd. It's less of a problem than Mr. Gosling would make it to be.

Innsbrook (not verified)
on Apr 8, 2013

Does this Gosling character not realize that PETA cares little about dehorning but want to eliminate animal husbandry in total? Stop dehorning and they simply move on to their next objection in the organized campaign aimed at disrupting a cattleman's daily operation until they reach their real goal......the fences are removed, the cattle are freed and man is forbidden from interacting with these creatures in any way, shape or form (and surely not for food). Gosling is either unwittingly allowing himself to be used as a tool by PETA or he agrees with their overall radical goal and should come out and say it.

John R. Dykers, Jr. (not verified)
on Apr 9, 2013

Takes all kinds. there are Hindus in India who worship cows and readily assign them a place in the animal hierarchy ahead of humans! Ah! The Pecking Order!

Frank Schlichting (not verified)
on Apr 8, 2013

Adam who?........In BC there has been a horn tax for years of $ 10 for every horned animal that goes to the auction. It has worked miracales.......we hardly ever see horned cattle other than rodeo stock. The carrot and stick aproach did the job.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 8, 2013

hats off to you with your comments. Most people don't understand the cattle industry but are quick to condemn anything they may consider inhuman without knowing the true facts

John Schirra (not verified)
on Apr 8, 2013

You all are giving Gosling too much credit. Odds are he has no idea which end the feed goes in and PETA just gave him a script to read.

on Apr 8, 2013

This could very well be true, but I still believe that Gosling has a huge influence as one of Hollywood's leading men, and whether he's ignorant or not, he's making these inflammatory statements against beef production, and it can't bode well for consumer acceptance of our practices or domestic beef demand.

David P (not verified)
on Apr 10, 2013

This is the problem...the PERCEIVED influence that movie stars have. By paying attention to it, we give them the legitimacy that they desire. Our response to this should be "ok, WHO are you? Why are you important?" I'm sure I've probably seen a movie with him in it, but I couldn't pick him out of a line-up, and I certainly wouldn't ask his opinion on anything else in my life. That said, as a beef producer, dehorning (not using polled genetics) is a hard practice to defend in this day and age.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 8, 2013

So....I wonder how people feel about procedures done on people that cause pain and are not "technically" necessary? Circumcision and Botox come to mind.... and I don't see Hollywood lining up to fight against these procedures. Grant it, Botox is a personal choice, but what about all those innocent little baby boys.... oh, the disgrace......Aren't there better things to take a stand against that fighting procedures done to animals by people who don't want to hurt the animals they raise. These animals are their livelihood and I think they care more for these animals that many would ever realize!

John R. Dykers, Jr. (not verified)
on Apr 9, 2013

Physicians still argue all the time pro and con about circumcision!

Steve Carpenter (not verified)
on Apr 9, 2013

Are you kidding ? !!! This idiot is the last person I would worry about!
If he showed at my front door; I would ask him to leave!
He looks like heck and he cannot ACT!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 11, 2013

One of the problems we, as cattle producers, have is when a well-known figure speaks out against our practices. That person may or may not know the whole story but because they are 'in the limelight' people do listen but most do not take the time to check out the facts. They do not see us out in bad weather checking on the herd or risking our own safety sometimes to make sure that those cows are cared for properly. The cattle producers that I know worry about those cows and do everything possible to make sure they stay healthy. We practice good stewardship and do the right things, not only because that herd is our lively-hood but because we care. We need to make our voices heard just as often as PETA but we need to spread the truth about what we do and why.

Peyton Marchant (not verified)
on Apr 13, 2013

I agree with Amanda. She makes valid points, and is a very qualified and able advocate for animal agriculture. But, debating with PETA and Ryan Gosling and his ilk, on a stage of their making, appears as superficial and silly as the argument they make. We know who we are and why we do what we do. We need to be careful of the cesspool into which we are wading before we start wrestling with alligators. By simply recognizing their campaign, we lend credibility, which they don't deserve, to their argument,

BTW "...might be pleasantly surprised to learn that 'us' cowboys aren't as bad..." ("we" might be a better choice of words.)

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2013

I don't believe that a lot of Hollywood actors and actresses are knowledgeable about the programs or organizations that they help support. While they may know some about them, they more than likely don't know the whole story behind them. He simply made these statements because they would make him look good in the eyes of some people. But, I mean come on it doesn't take a genius to know that dehorning cattle is painful. The ranchers that I know, know this fact and they try to avoid it or if they can't avoid it they try to make the process as less painful as possible for the animal. Mr. Gosling needs to be more educated about the subject before he can start making claims about it and I know that there are several people who are willing to help him with that.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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