Researchers at Agrocope, in Gangeneuve, Switzerland, have opened an eight-inch hole in the sides of 14 cows. These cannula openings allow them to see into the cows’ digestive tract and monitor how they process food. Animal rights campaigners have raised their voice against this seemingly cruel act, but farmers also claim that cows feel no pain when being examined.
The study of cows with holes is called fistualization. A cannulated or fistulated cow has an aperture of around 20 centimeters in diameter in the side as an access to the rumen. This allows research and analysis of the stomach and digestive system. These cows are also fed experimental blends of oats along with their regular diet of grass. Farmers then analyze and work towards a more balanced feed for cows. Researchers also claim that this process improves the energy efficiency of the cows. This also helps the environment by lowering the amount of methane that the animal produces.
If you see it in this way, farmers may be playing God. They breed cows by a very controversial practice.
This practice originated in the United States. The first “hole-y cows” showed up in university farms, which is where you can still find the largest number of them.
Researchers claim that they can carry out experiments, students can learn from a living organism, and farmers can choose the right feed for their animals.
The fistualization process
A farmer or a scientist first cuts into the cow’s left side. A rubber coil is inserted into the opening so that the wound does not get any bigger. The hole that is cut out of the cow is usually 6 inches wide, which allows a person to easily insert their hand into the hole. The opening leads directly to the cow’s stomach.
However, animal rights campaigners emphasize the fact that farmers literally drill holes into living animals, which they consider as cruel and barbaric. According to opponents, the holes don’t benefit science but serve the breeders. They also claim that farmers feed animals cheap food that they can’t digest well. The undigested waste from the cheap feed is removed through the holes.