Apparently, portholes are the new “spotted cow,” or at least this is the case for 14 cows in Switzerland who have been fitted with “cannulas” that allow scientists to look directly into the cow’s digestive track to monitor what they’re eating.
And why are scientists doing this? To monitor the energy efficiency of a cow, of course. Keep your eyes peeled for a Tesla cow, coming 2016 (I am only joking of course). But assessing the energy efficiency of cows is in fact the main purpose of this bananas experiment.
You see, cows have been pinned as major drivers of climate change because they release large amounts of methane, especially when fed a corn-based diet they cannot properly digest. This is a common practice on factory farms that pump millions of cows with a corn/soy slurry that is simply incompatible with the cows digestive tract. The result is not only extreme discomfort for the cow–some cows literally suffocate because of the amount of gas that builds up in their stomach from this diet–but, the result is also damaging to the environment.
So, rather than pushing to cut back on the large-scale production of sick cows, scientists are cutting holes in them instead…and you thought you’d seen it all…By placing a window straight into therumen (digestive chamber) of the cow, farmers can examine which type of forage is best digested by the cow. Testing a combination of grass and oats, scientists and farmers alike aim to optimize the cow’s diet based on how easily the cows can break down different materials.
I am no scientist, but I am going to bet that a cow allowed to graze openly in a field, like they do naturally, is probably the most energy efficient…you know, evolution and all that…But, by all means, do something crazy like cutting a porthole in a cow to come to that conclusion!