You may have seen a few of these shocking images floating around the internet. In them stand what is often reported to be a dairy cow with a plastic 'hole' in its side.
Some agencies want you to believe that the agriculture industry is doing this to encourage better milk production, but that's just not entirely accurate.
According to Modern Farmer, the holes you're seeing in the sides of these cows were made by a veterinarian who placed a cannula (a tube) in the hole cut between an internal organ and the outside world.
The tube keeps the hole in tact, but sterile. A thick plastic cap is added for easy access to the cow's internal organ. After about six weeks of healing, the cow's microorganisms can be harvested to treat other sick cows and even goats.
According to Dr. Brian Aldridge, clinical professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine in Illinois, "it’s been shown that the recovery rate and return to appetite and milk production is much greater if you reestablish the gut flora.”
Basically, the probiotics in healthy cows help to re-establish a balance in the stomachs of unhealthy cows.
Some animal rights groups criticize the procedure as being cruel. According to the Daily Mail, The cow grazes for set period of time before the farmer removes the plug and takes the grass/oat mixture from the rumen.
The food is examined and the results tell farmers which forages get the best result for their livestock.
Although the cattle are under anesthetic during the surgery, they are conscious when farmers and researchers collect the chewed food.
Some animal rights activists consider this animal abuse and want the practice to stop.
What do you think? Does it seem harmless, or harmful?