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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19119
While reading your recent article dealing with cows, I was shocked and hurt to learn that ISKCON castrates their bulls. I feel that this is a horrible thing to do and also unnecessary. Somehow it is hard for me to see how Krsna could sanction this, since He loves cows.
I wish you could explain why you feel it is so necessary to mutilate the bulls in this manner. Surely it must be extremely painful both during the castration itself and afterwards, when the bull has to live with the fact that it can no longer engage in the natural function of reproduction.
Would it be right for us to castrate humans? Certainly bulls have feelings too.
I hope to see this letter and your reply in a future issue of BTG.
R. A. Street S. Walpole, Massachusetts
Our reply: Krsna created the bull to breed cows or to work as an ox. An ox is a mature castrated bull. An uncastrated bull can't work. He's too wild with sex desire. Ever meet one? A bull can be very fierce. One on our Pennsylvania farm used to break out of his corral, terrorize the cows, damage the property, and charge everyone with his horns. We had to put a ring in his nose and chain him up. And the bull's "natural function of reproduction" must be carefully supervised. If you let him breed more animals than you can maintain, there's no one to buy them except people who will eventually sell them to slaughter.
A bull bred for working should be castrated before the age of six months. You take a surgical instrument and pinch the blood vessels above his testicles. The operation is simple, quick, and no more painful than a needle shot. The resultant hormonal changes provide the growing ox with a powerful neck and shoulders and mellow his temperament so you can train him to work. His testicles remain undeveloped, but the simple ox isn't hung up about it. In fact, he's more peaceful than the steaming bull. The same drive he would have put into procreation, he puts into work. An ox loves to work.
Since Krsna loves the cows. He gives them to us to employ and protect in His service. That is our true "dominion over the cattle" (Genesis 1.26). But we're not surprised that you didn't know how the bulls work as oxen. Today only three percent of Americans farm, and even the organic folks almost always use tractors. People are too busy eating calves and steers to know what they could do if given a chance to grow up. So let's save our shock for the slaughterhouse. If we don't work the bulls as oxen, then, like our misled countrymen, we'll think them useless and want to kill them too. And that's no bull.