DENVER – Legislators in Colorado were to debate a bill that would prevent farmers from docking the tails of dairy cattle for sanitary reasons, according to the Associated Press.

Rep. Steve Lebsock sponsored the bill, which is now before the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee. The bill would ban tail docking except when performed by a veterinarian and when using anesthesia. The most common method of tail docking involves using a tight rubber ring to cut off circulation. The cow wears the ring for a month or two until as about two-thirds of the tail falls off. Tail docking is believed to keep cow udders and milk clean.

Tail docking is banned in California, Rhode Island and New Jersey, according to AP. Ohio will phase out the practice in 2018. The National Milk Producers Federation passed a resolution in July 2012 opposing tail docking.

"NMPF’s National Dairy FARM Animal Care Program opposes the routine tail docking of dairy animals, except in the case of traumatic injury to an animal," the resolution stated. "This practice is recommended to be phased out by 2022. Switch trimming is recommended as a preferred alternative.

"Acknowledging existing animal cruelty laws, NMPF opposes efforts to prescribe specific on-farm animal care practices through federal, state, or local legislative or regulatory action."

The resolution aligned the federation's position with leading veterinary care organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, both of which oppose tail docking.

The bill may not make it out of committee, in which case Lebsock said he might put the issue on the 2014 ballot, according to AP.