If you’ve never seen a cow with a “window” on its side, this may come as a shock, but these cannulated cows are a thing in Switzerland: researchers and farmers claim that by making wide holes in the stomachs of cows, they can see how food is being processed and better control their digestion; the practice is also said to improve farming methods and the environment as well as the health of the cows.
However, animal rights activists claim this is an unsafe, cruel and inhumane practice that only dairy and meat industries benefit from. Read on to find out what is the truth.
Cannulated cows are cows with portholes that give farmers direct access to the animal’s rumen. These cannulas are surgically placed while the animal is under local anesthesia and standing. After the cow has fully recovered, it grazes for a set period of time and then it gets its examination, which is when a farmer will remove the plug and pull the grass from the rumen. This material is then sent for analysis which is supposed to show how the cow is digesting the food and which forages get the best results. In essence, this helps farmers create better diets for cows.
Also, every healthy cow has lots of helpful gut microorganisms that help her digest the food. For this reason, the rumen is the most important part of the digestive process, as its microbes break down foods that the cow is unable to. So, if a cow is having digestive issues, these cannulas allow farmers to transplant helpful gut microorganisms in their stomachs, ultimately helping the animals better digest their food. This is also supposed to help their overall health and longevity.
PETA and other animal rights activists have been very vocal about their disapproval of this practice. They claim that this is abuse and that the practice is cruel, inhumane and horrifying. This is because, according to activists, cannulated cows go through a stressful, and probably painful procedure for no reason other than to benefit the dairy and meat industries.
While it’s certain the animals cannot be asked whether they want this procedure, it’s less certain whether they actually suffer at all – research and history have indeed shown that these cows live longer and have better digestion, but the practice does look scary and maybe even unnecessary.
What’s your opinion on this practice?