Hole in cow's stomach not cruelty...

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Karin L, Dec 4, 2006.

  1. Karin L

    Karin L Bovine and Range Nerd

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    Edmonton Sun News
    Sunday November 5, 2006

    Hole in cow's stomach not cruelty: researcher

    BRANDON, Man. (CP) -- Researchers who've cut gaping holes into cattle on display at a Manitoba agricultural exhibition are denying accusations of animal cruelty levelled by an animal rights group.

    An eight-year old Jersey cow named Darth on display Friday at an agricultural exhibition in Brandon had a hole in the side of its stomach big enough to stick an adult's arm up to the shoulder.

    The hole-capped by a rubbery plug-allow researchers to insert nutrients into the animal's stomach and monitor its digestive system.

    "It's something quite unique," said Terri Garner, a ruminant research technician with the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Agriculture.

    It's also cruel, said director with the Winnepeg Humane Society. "This is animal abuse masking as education and I think it's seriously disturbing," said John Youngman.

    Garner denied it's inhumane. "The holes allow us to do this kind of research without hurting the animal."
     
  2. pancho

    pancho Well-Known Member

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    Many years ago there was a cow that had the same hole. There was a screw cap on it. It was used in some college classes and for research.
     

  3. farmerdan

    farmerdan Well-Known Member

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    University of Alaska Fairbanks, had cows with windows in their sides to see how they digested fish byproducts. Not sure if it was cruel or not but they did it.

    Dan
     
  4. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Guest

    This has been done for decades. It's a useful research tool.

    .....Alan.
     
  5. DaleK

    DaleK Well-Known Member

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    I lived beside the Ag Canada research station in Quebec for four years. They had cows that had had them for over 10 years, lived normally, calved normally. No problem.
     
  6. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Many colleges that have animal science courses, etc, have had cows with windows in the side, ports etc. It is the only way to monitor digestion, and since the rumen is a very interesting "furnace" of sorts, it can be studied this way without incident. Cruelty is when you beat an animal for no reason, you don't feed it, you do other nasty things. But a hole in the side, a hole that allows you to do whatever isn't cruel. It isn't hurting the animal.


    Look animal rights activists will say its cruel to do this or that, but would never hesitate to harm a human, or even kill a human to prove their point, or push their agenda.


    Jeff
     
  7. MARYDVM

    MARYDVM Well-Known Member

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    Having a rumenostomy is a way to guarantee a cow will stay in the research herd until she dies of old age. It doesn't matter if she's a lousy milker, or doesn't breed at all. She's set for life because of her value in research. Not cruel at all when it guarantees a long and care free existence.
     
  8. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    There was a Civil War veteran who accidently ended up with a "window". He allowed researchers to poke and prod him, and I never recall any complaints of pain.
     
  9. mundamanu

    mundamanu Well-Known Member

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    People have colostomy bags attached to them all of the time, which amounts to a "hole in the side," which does not hurt, although emptying the bag is gross (I had a friend who had an accident and needed a bag).

    However, the issue for me is not whether the procedure itself is cruel -- and it would be if they didn't use an anesthetic, but I imagine they did. The issue for me is that there is absolutely no reason to perform this type of procedure to facilitate this type of research. It is entirely unnecessary, and so in this sense, for me, it is unethical. The only sector of society that benefits from this type of research is factory farms and agribusinesses. The modern industrial Holstein is a Frankenstein of an animal, whose existence has destroyed small-scale dairy farming by causing a massive overproduction of milk.

    We do not need this sort of research to know how to feed our animals. We have (well, we had, until industrial farming and land-grant agricultural extensions erased our memories) a centuries-old cultural knowledge of animal husbandry that relies primarily on observation and common sense. Well-bred, carefully-selected cows produce plenty of milk on excellent pasture, excellent hay, and, if you must, an excellent, sustainably-raised supplemental concentrate ration.

    Cows are not an economic unit of input. They are not a motor to be tweaked and turbocharged to get every bit of power out of. They are a living, breathing, complex biological organism that nature has already made to do perfectly well what we want them to do -- in an efficient and profitable manner (we today act as if dairy farming was impossibly unprofitable before the advent of industrial farming, when in fact, the converse is true -- dairy farming is impossibly unprofitable because of the advent of industrial farming; the industrialization of dairy farming destroyed dairy farming).
     
  10. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Mandamnu, I couldn't disagree with you more. "Factory farms" as you call them are not the only ones interested in getting maximum output from their livestock. It is vitally important for EVERY family farmer to maximize production to remain profitible. Such research is how we learn about esential amino acids (different forms of protein) and how they interact with each other. It's how we learn about rumen microbes and how they reproduce. You may not look at your pets as units of production but I can guarantee you that all people who depend on their livestock as theire livelyhood do.
     
  11. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I agree that it would be a nicer world without the larger farms, but that's not the way the world is anymore and it's not going back unless we get a SHTF type of thing happen. And a cow isn't bothered, that I ever saw, having a fistula in her side, either. It certainly isn't cruelty! People throw the word cruelty at too much stuff these days.

    Jennifer
     
  12. mundamanu

    mundamanu Well-Known Member

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    Tinkal,

    I will admit that almost everyone engaged in the exchange of commodities is interested in maximizing profits. However, this interest does not necessarily translate to an interest in maximizing production. There is a significant and important difference between the two. (I say "almost everyone" because there are a significant number of people out there who are interested not in maximizing profits, but in profiting enough to be satisfied and leaving it at that) One certain way to maximize profits is to minimize costs. Low-input pasture-based dairying leads to a higher profit margin than high-input confinement dairying.

    Treating an agricultural system, which is a complex ecological and biological system, in the same way that you treat a manufacturing system (of widgets, for example) leads to significant long-term social (low worker wages and benefits, poor and often dangerous working conditions), environmental (water, soil, and air pollution), cultural (loss of rural and farming communities), economic (depressed and/or abandoned rural communities, market concentration and centralization), and ethical (inhumane treatment of animals) costs.

    It is completely unnecessary to "learn about essential amino acids (different forms of protein) and how they interact with each other. [Or] learn about rumen microbes and how they reproduce" in order to be a successful dairy farmer. Those sorts of interests are only relevant to an industrial farming model in which every bit of milk is squeezed out of the cow, regardless of the non-monetary costs (see above). I don't need to know anything about amino acids or rumen microbes to see by observation that a cow produces well on a legume-rich mixed-grass pasture with lots of sunshine and exercise. I would rather just know by observation that what I am doing is working than cut a hole in the side of a cow and install a window, so that I can watch its rumen ruminate. I do not think that nature "intends" anything, but one thing is certain, the cow, over many millenia of interaction with its natural environment has developed a certain productive equilibrium in that environment. As soon as we domesticate and confine the cow, we change that relationship. However, by approximating those natural conditions, we can reap a much better profit than by hubristically extracting the cow from those conditions and dropping it into a contrived industrial system.

    If you have not read any information on the true costs of factory farming, visit the GRACE Factory Farm project at www.factoryfarm.org . Note that the Factory Farm Project in no way shape or form promotes the abandonment of eating meat in favor of vegetarian- or veganism. It promotes humane and sustainable livestock production.

    And for a fun-filled lesson about factory farming, go to www.themeatrix.com (there are 2 1/2 Meatrix movies, so make sure you see all of them).
     
  13. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    Mundamanu both of your posts are well written, and well thought out. However there are some things that I will touch upon, and why amino acids are extremely important, and what has come about with research.


    First off, the meatrix is funded by PETA. PETA isn't a group to follow, they are vulgar, they also fund and support criminals. One of which was a fire bomber who had commited arson in the past. He was given on the order of 70,000. The name of this criminal is "Anthony Coronado", and he had burned down a Michigan State University research lab. The meatrix is right about the factory farms, but it does lump farms in general into the equation, the first meatrix that was out. Getting an opinion from something that is anti anything, isn't the best source.

    Now as far as amino acids go. Amino acids make a cow tick. They are present regardless of their diet. Through research they have found ways to utilize common grains to do more, without chemicals. There is a product out there called "amino plus". It is a soybean product. What it does, and it makes a lot of sence is utilize the proteins in other parts of the rumen, and digestive system in general. It is designed to not break down in the first chamber of the rumen, instead it passes into the other chambers that do the work. It also is a product that is absorbed and utilized in the intestine. It is commonly known was bypass proteins. It is not a synthetic chemical, it is 100% natural. It does enhance production, but it is a natural way to do so in a concentrate. There are other things you can add in, such as distillers which is waste from ethanol plants, and other sources. It is a natural product, as it is a corn product for the most part. Distillers have been fed to cows for quite a long time, ever since they have been made available. Actually I think I saw somewhere they have fed it since the 1800's.


    When you do add in other things like urea, and animal products that is wrong, and any farmer would agree that blood meal, feather meal, and other animal products should not be fed.

    Now as far as production, and grazing. Yes you can graze animals, feed some concentrate, and do well. However, even with minimal input, they still cost money. If you do not feed a dairy cow properly, she wont produce much at all, then your loosing money. I feed my holsteins what I feed them for grain qauntity, not to push them, but they are heifers still. They grow between 2 and 3yrs, and need extra concentrate to help them produce and grow. Even if your grazing, some corn meal should be fed for energy purposes. Our vet went to a seminar this one farmer was giving. He has 50-60 jerseys, he grazes only. But there is a catch, he only produces 5500lbs of milk per lactation, that is 18lbs of milk per day, per cow. If shipping, he would ship 1800lbs of milk a pickup. I ship 1500lbs with 16 cows, of those 3-4 are jerseys, so the majority of the milk is produced by the holsteins. I am likely making more off that few of cows, as I dont need to volume of hay to feed 50 cows. Our vet also said the picture of them showed that they didn't seem to have the condition they should have.


    As far as holsteins being frankensteinesque animals. There are Jerseys who can outproduce holsteins. There are holsteins that milk 60lbs of day, with a Jersey going 65-70lbs or more. Holsteins are a big breed, but not all of them are high producers, and some can simply produce a lot off of some concentrate and hay only. Its like people, some have tons of energy regardless of the food they eat, while others are laid back. It is genetic.


    To sum up what I have wrote. Learning about microbes, acids, and other things in a dairy cow, it can help small or big farms to manage their feeding systems. You can't simply take feed, feed them and say "make milk". Because through forage analysis, through knowledge you can adjust your feeding systems to balance out things. We all (for the most part), have check books. We have to balence that check book, or keep our finances in check. If we dont, we will find ourselves in trouble. A poorly managed checkbook isn't healthy, a poorly managed farm isn't healthy either. Balancing a ration is key to making a cow efficent. However, she has to have the ability to do so. The microbes I mention can hurt a cow, especially the bad microbes. Too much pasture can cause acidosis, which will take a cows production, and kick it out the door quicker than you can blink. I saw it with a Jersey. She took in too much molasses, she went from 50lbs a day to 10lbs overnight. I had to feed her inside for a week to get her back. Green grass is good, untill their systems bugs don't work right. In a TMR (total mixed ration), there is grain/grass and corn silage. If there isn't enough roughage, they can get acidosis. The acids as I mentioned are important, and if she isn't able to utilize those acids, she wont do as well as she could. It has NOTHING to do with pushing a cow, it has to do with management, nothing more.



    Jeff
     
  14. mundamanu

    mundamanu Well-Known Member

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    Jeff,

    Thank you for your message.

    If you take one thing away from our discussion, please let it be the following, because it is much more important than the substantive aspects of our discussion. The Meatrix is in no way shape or form funded by PETA. The Meatrix was produced by design company Free Range Graphics for Sustainable Table, a project of GRACE (grassroots action center for the environment).

    As I stated in my previous e-mail, "the Factory Farm Project in no way shape or form promotes the abandonment of eating meat in favor of vegetarian- or veganism. It promotes humane and sustainable livestock production." As proof of this, I offer the following, Sustainabletable.org has a section called "Sustainable Kitchen," and in that section there is a "Recipes" category within which some of the headings under entrees is "beef," "fish," "lamb," "pork," and "poultry." Furthermore, GRACE has another project called the "Eat Well Guide" (eatwellguide.org), which is solely geared toward helping people find non-factory farmed meat. The tagline on the site is "wholesome food from healthy animals." The Factory Farm Project (factoryfarm.org), Sustainable Table, The Meatrix, and the Eat Well Guide are a package as each one refers to the others and links jump you back and forth between them. Nowhere on any of those sites is there a suggestion that people should not eat meat, in fact, one of the major goals of those sites is to enable people to find meat (and dairy, obviously) to consume.

    Again, PETA has nothing whatsoever to do with the Meatrix or the other various projects of GRACE. GRACE likes meat. GRACE is a meat eater, and GRACE wants you to be a meat eater too.

    I have to get ready to go to my wife's work holiday party, but I do want to comment on a couple of things you said in your message, which I probably won't get to until tomorrow.

    Best regards,
    Bob aka mundamanu
     
  15. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks Jeff, I just don't have the patience...........LOL

    Mabey mundamanu Doesn't realize what led to the discovery of the cause of milk fever. That discovery alone has saved 10s of thousands of cows and millions of dollars for family farmers. Obviously he has never fed a protein supplement or vitimin and minerals, as these kinds of needs were discovered through research and as such, just are not necessary.
     
  16. mundamanu

    mundamanu Well-Known Member

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    OK, so you guys are missing my point.

    Tinknal, your milk fever example only justifies scientific research within an industrial paradigm, which I have already acknowledged. In my original message, I stated that "The only sector of society that benefits from this type of research is factory farms and agribusinesses." I have not claimed that science cannot tell us anything about dairy cows. I do not need a lesson in what science can tell us about dairy cows. What I need is for you to understand that the sort of scientific research that involves cutting holes in cows' sides and installing windows is relevant only to an industrial model of dairy farming. Milk fever? A high incidence of milk fever is a consequence of industrial production practices! The very point of "sustainable" dairy practices is that you do not push an animal past its natural production equilibrium. That is, you feed animals good mixed pasture, good hay, and good grass-legume silage and you get good production without a high incidence of production-diminishing disease and life-threatening health problems.

    There is plenty of information out there that shows that grass-based dairying is just as efficient -- from the perspective of profit -- as industrial dairying. However, you cannot just get it into your head that you are going to try grass-based dairying and throw your industrial cows out on the pasture and say "make milk!" (as Jeff points out), and then when grass-based dairying fails for you with your industrial cows say "See, grass-based dairying doesn't work!" (This incidentally is exactly what agricultural extensions did with organics back in the 70s. They took conventional fields, which are horribly devoid of nutrients, stopped putting chemical fertilizers on them, didn't spray any pesticides, and then planted some stuff that did horribly and said, "See, organic farming doesn't work!") You need to use grass-based genetics to do grass-based dairying (I use the word genetics here not in its scientific sense, but rather in its observational sense -- that cow with that bull makes a better cow for whatever reason). This is one of the reasons that people are turning to older breeds or lines of newer breeds that are proven foragers to build grass-based dairy herds. If you have a cow bred to efficiently convert concentrates, that cow is not going to efficiently convert grass. This is common sense.

    Jeff, thank you for taking the time to write your explanation about amino acids and microbes, but again, it misses my point. My point is that knowing about amino acids and microbes is only necessary within an industrial model of dairy production.

    I hate to repeat myself over and over again, but the point I am making is not terribly complicated, so I want to get it across. This is my point, scientific research can indeed tell us quite a bit about cows, however, that scientific research is only relevant to an industrial model of dairy farming. In order to improve production, observation and common sense are enough, neither of which are likely to lead to pushing a cow beyond a sustainable level of production.

    I will make a final point. Industrial farming is not reflective of some sort of "natural evolution" of human farming practices. Industrial farming was intentionally introduced by large agricultural corporations to increase their profits, knowing full-well that only large agricultural corporations would have the capital resources to effectively compete in an industrialized agricultural marketplace. The "market" is not some natural thing with a life of its own. It is a human creation that is manipulable by those with enough power to manipulate it. By being convinced ourselves and convincing others in turn that an industrial model of agriculture is unsustainable, we can change the market and make it possible (from the perspective of profit) to return to a non-industrial model of dairy (livestock) farming.

    However, if you are happy to have your cows tied to a stall in a windowless barn with seven foot ceilings, and all of your capital debt and the tremendous labor involved with bring the food to them and taking the manure away from them for pennies on the hundred-weight (or less) in profit, then I guess what I'm saying won't sound very appealing to you.

    Best regards,
    Bob
     
  17. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Bob, you have formed an opinion and then created an arguement to support it. Then you accuse people of "missing your point" Go troll somewhere else.
     
  18. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Whoops! I don't know where you got THAT information about milk fever, Bob, but it's wrong. Milk fever has been with us a long time and factory farming has nothing to do with it. I have my great-grandfather's book on animal health treatments and milk fever is in there. This book was published somewhere from 1880-1900, I think . Haven't seen it awhile it's stuck away in a closet somewhere. I can assure you they didn't run factory farms then. It has a genetic base cause that's triggered by how fast a cow comes into her milk and what they were fed during their dry period. They can get milk fever just as fast on good pasture as they can when they're "pushed" for production. And remember, another metabolic illness, grass tetany, is almost ONLY a problem with lush spring pastures. Grass does not protect a cow from everything as you seem to think.

    I am not picking on you. I'm just pointing out that not every ill in cow society is caused by factory farms and that perhaps you should be learning from some other pages as well as the ones you are using now.

    And as you know, the country is not fed by these factory farms. If you shut them down you would not see waves of 30 cow dairy farmers rising to meet the sudden need for milk. Milk, cheese, etc, would just become a rich man's food and that would be that.

    And I was raised on a dairy farm and came back here after Cornell to farm with my parents. I've run the farm by myself for 20 years come the first of January, and right now I milk 19 cows who live in a free stall barn with access to the outside fields even in the winter, and I run a bull with them, to boot. All hay, no corn, but concentrates fed. So I pretty much know from a lifetime of experience what I'm talking about.

    Jennifer
     
  19. arabian knight

    arabian knight Miniature Horse lover Supporter

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    That is true. And besides factory farming has some person or people that is their job to make SURE all cows are as healthy as they can be. Gesh don't people realize that if a cow is not healthy the milk production goes down, and that is something a factory farm OR Family farm can't have.~!
    Milking cows and having them give as much milk as possible is the Factory Farms Bread and Butter~!
    I have seen vet trucks at these big dairy farms I have seen cultures being taken, I have seen stool samples being taken to see just how much of the food stuffs is being digested and if not just what can be adjusted to make it more digestible.. And with VERY FEW exceptions NON of this happens on some of the smaller places because they can't afford it. So lets just not paint with such a broad brush and say all factory farm stinks and are not doing a good job. Some are CLEANER then some folks Homes~!!!!! No manure smell. Nice clean break rooms for their workers. Gesh I hate people that say just because they have heard a few that are not clean they ALL are that way, Because that just Taint So~!!!
     
  20. mundamanu

    mundamanu Well-Known Member

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    I'm not trolling. I am having a discussion about dairy farming practices on a cattle discussion board that I read almost daily.

    I don't understand your first sentence. Do you mean it is somehow rhetorically inappropriate to have an opinion about something and then make an argument to support that opinion, with one of the consequences of this rhetorical foul being that it is not possible for someone to miss one's point? Opinions generally aren't formed out thin air, they are always rooted in some argument/idea/illustration/etc. that has convinced one of the correctness of the opinion being defended. When one defends one's opinion, one calls upon the founding argument/idea/illustration/etc., and any ideas that have been added to it since adopting it, in order to do so. As such, I do not see how your first sentence has any argumentative traction -- at least as I have interpreted it above.

    Tinknal, I am perfectly happy to agree to disagree with you. However, I do think that your rather hurtful language is not the appropriate way to call an end to the discussion.

    Best regards,
    Bob