Modern science has evolved to be something of a streamlined, high-tech process. When we think of scientific testing, images of stark white labs and pristine equipment definitely come to mind, as well as doctors and researchers in bright white coats doing all the work. But in this particular instance, science remains about as primitive and as dirty as it can get — which makes sense, considering the fact that where this particular brand of research goes down is on a farm. It’s a process called cannulation and, simply put, it involves drilling holes into the sides of cows to study and document their digestive happenings. Yes, it might sound like something out of a horror film at first — but the process is more respectful and nuanced than you might think. Plus, it gives farmers and scientists important information about their animals without causing them grave damage. Read more about this unusual process, and what is learned from it, below.The holes are called cannulas, and they act like a porthole that allows farmers and scientists to see what’s going on inside a cow’s digestive tract.
It’s a permanent hole between the cow’s internal organs, and it gives experts access to the cow’s digestive habits without harming them.
Performed with the cow standing, local anesthesia is injected into the area, and then a cannula, which is basically a tube made of extremely durable, thick plastic is inserted.
Then, the cow has a permanent access point to observe the goings-on in it’s belly. It doesn’t affect the cow’s quality of life, or it’s lifespan.
Millions of bacteria, protozoa, and some fungi reside inside the cow’s digestive system, microscopic entities responsible for digesting all the plant material the bovine consumes.
It’s a way of replacing unhealthy gut flora from one cow from a cow who’s healthy, theoretically improving the overall health of the herd.
With gloves on, of course.
After all, despite the fact that it’s said to be safe and pain-free, it’s still drilling a hole into the side of an unsuspecting animal.
It’s the easiest, most efficient way to study what’s going on in the cow’s gut flora and medicate it if necessary.
If given the chance, would you take a peek inside one of these cannulated cows? Would you dare put your hand inside?