Researchers at Agroscope, in Grangeneuve, Switzerland are opening an eight-inch hole, known as a cannula, on the flanks of 14 cows so they can monitor their digestion

Why do these cows have holes in their sides?
Two cannulated cows graze at a research centre in Switzerland (Picture: EPA/Laurent Gillieron)

Have you ever had the urge to peer inside one of a cow’s four stomachs?

Researchers at Agroscope, in Grangeneuve, Switzerland are doing just that, having opened an eight-inch hole on the sides of 14 cows.

The cannula openings allow them to see into the animal’s digestive tract, so they can monitor exactly how cows process their food.

epa04217055 Two cow with a fistule graze at the agricultural research centre Agroscope in Posieux, Switzerland, 21 May 2014. A cannulated or fistulated cow is equipped with an aperture of around 20 centimeters in diameter on the side as an access to the rumen, which allows research, analysis and experimentations on the functioning of the stomach and the digestive system of the cow.  EPA/LAURENT GILLIERON
The claim that cows feel no pain when being examined is disputed by animal rights campaigners (Picture: EPA/Laurent Gillieron)

The cows are fed experimental blends of oats along with their regular diet of grass. As the feed passes through the rumen the farmer reaches into the cow, pulling out the mixture of oats and grass.

The digested food is then analysed, allowing farmers to work towards a more balanced feed for cows. Researchers claim the process improves the energy efficiency of cows, which in turn helps the environment by lowering the amount of methane the animal produces.

The cows are anaesthetised while the canula is fitted and are said to experience no pain when being examined.

The practice, which dates back to 1833, is criticised by animal rights campaigners, who claim it is abuse.

22 May 2014 | 1:24 pm – Source:

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