PETA is at it, again. Recently in my news feed, I have seen articles slamming cow cannulation. It's been called irrational abuse with no real purpose or cause. Farmers have been accused of drilling holes in their animals just for the heck of it and to watch their animals suffer. Makes total sense, right? Why not just destroy the animals a farmer makes their living off of, and that they have already invested thousands of dollars in? Well, here's the real facts of cannulation that PETA won't tell you.
To start off, cannulation is the process of drilling a hole into the side of an animal's digestive tract. This hole is covered with a plug most of the time. When open, you can look in the hole and see the stomach and its contents. It is commonly done in cows, but can be done in many species including horses. It's not a common practice on the average farm, at least not in America. Places like Switzerland use this practice much more than we do. In America, you will find cannulated animals all over research farms and Universities.
The animal feels no pain. Before the procedure ever begins, the area is numbed so that the animal feels absolutely nothing. If you watch videos of cannulation, the animal stays perfectly still during the whole process, assuring us that they can't feel it. They show no sign of agitation or discomfort.
The reason your average farm would use cannulation is to reduce antibiotic use, and therefore limit antibiotic resistance- a very noble cause. Gut bacteria play a large part in animal and human health. If a cow gets sick, so do their gut bacteria. What takes the animal so long to recover is that all of their gut bacteria have to get better, too. If a cow gets sick, and there is a cannulated cow in the herd, the gut bacteria can be taken from the healthy cow and placed in the sick cow. It can cure a cow's tummy ache in half the time antibiotics can.
Research farms and universities commonly use cannulation to study gut bacteria and nutrition. What this process has done for animal nutrition is absolutely remarkable. We can now feed the animal, and take samples of what their stomach does with it. These samples help companies like Purina develop the most nutritious feed for animals. Cattle contribute to global warming a lot. They produce methane gas as they chew their cud, and as their nutrition improves, they secrete less methane. So, indirectly, cannulated cows are helping us reduce our carbon footprint (Or, more accurately, the cow's carbon hoofprint).
At the university I attend, we use our cannulated cow for education purposes to the general public as well. It helps young children or adults who haven't been exposed to agriculture understand a cow's digestive system. The hands-on approach to education has helped the community understand the agricultural industry that much more.
Cannulation isn't a bad thing at all. It has many useful purposes that can help the agriculture industry solve many problems we face today.