Pictures of cows with holes in them have started to circulate on the social media once again. It was in 2014 when the news came that researchers in Switzerland have fitted 14 cows with cannulas in their sides, that are cut directly into the animal’s digestive tract.
So why were the holes being made?
Well, the purpose of the holes were simple – to test the animal’s digestion.
The 8-inch (20 cm) deep holes were made to allow farmers to directly see how food is being processed in the livestock and, hence, get the very best from them. The cannula acted like a porthole that gave them direct access to the cow’s rumen.
Once the cannula was surgically placed, the animals were made to graze for a set period of time. After the period was over, farmers would remove the rubber plug and pull the grass and oat mixture from the rumen. Once collected and tested, the pulled out material would give farmers and researchers an idea of which forages were giving them the best results, based on how much of it was being digested by the livestock
While the practice is said to have become common place in the 1920s, Daily Mail claims that reports of cows being used in this way for scientific research date back to 1833.
But aren’t animals hurt in the process?
While researchers claim that the process is helping the environment by cutting down the amount of methane resleased in the air, animal rights campaigners claim it to be an abuse of the animals. They have branded the practice as cruel and, for them, the idea of “using the results to help sick cows” is a sham.
The cows are druged to experience no pain during the surgery but PETA argues that “the mutilation still has a four- to six-week recovery period, in which there’s no doubt that the animals are uncomfortable.”
It adds, “While some claim that this transfer can improve the health of cows, the procedure seems mostly to benefit the meat and dairy industries’ bottom lines—optimizing food and digestion for animals who will ultimately be exploited and slaughtered.”