We all know that cows have four stomachs right? Well this isn’t entirely true. In fact, they have only one stomach but it has four chambers for digestion. A cow’s digestive system is fascinating in this way, so researchers decided, “hey, lets research cow digestion!”
Introducing the fistulated cow! A fistula is an opening on the side of a cow (or human) that is surgically created so that researchers can monitor the cow’s digestive processes. By opening I literally mean it is a hole in the cow about 8 inches in diameter.
It is plastic window plugged with a rubber stopper that can be removed when the cow’s digestion needs to be monitored. How is it monitored? By sticking your arm elbow deep into a cow’s internal cavity that how! Supposedly the strength of the stomach (which is a muscle) can almost feel as though it will break your hand if you stick it between the stomach and other internal organs. It’s a powerful process wherein the pulsating stomach breaks down the food and moves it along the bowels.
Researchers say that the purpose for this is to examine how the cow breaks down certain foods such as oats. This helps determine the most balanced diet for the animal. The data they collect also helps in determining how good vs. bad bacteria interact, and also the causes for diseases and other types of ailments that may affect the cows.
There are only a handful of ranches that contain fistulated cows because animal rights activist claim that the practice is cruel. However, proponents point to the evidence showing that the cow is in no pain and it in now way effects the lifespan of the animal.
While the sight of a cow with a large hole in their side is at first alarming, the results of the data collected from these cows has helped determine the cause of certain types of diseases in both animals and humans.