How You Can Actually Look Inside a Living Cow in New York
Yes, you read the headline correctly. There's a place in New York where you can actually look inside a living cow.
If your mouth is currently hanging open, no one would blame you. The first time I heard about this opportunity, I couldn't believe my ears... until I saw the cows. Real life cows with holes in their sides that show all the way down to their stomachs.
Cows with Holes in Their Sides Are Living in New York
The technical term for these animals are fistulated cows, and the reason for the holes in their sides is quite scientific. The cows, which are otherwise unaltered and can live relatively normal lives despite the tunnels installed in their bodies, can be used to help save the lives of other farm animals.
Why Are There Fistulated Cows in New York?
A fistulated cow is a cow with a rumen fistula (or cannula), which is a medically-created hole that connects the cow's rumen (one of the animal's stomach compartments) with the outside world. It allows access to the cow's gut microbes, which can be harvested and used medicinally:
Transfaunation — the act of taking microbes from one source and putting them in another — can be a literal lifesaver when it comes to a bovine bellyache... Rumen flora from a fistulated cow helps not only sick cows, but also sheep and goats because they share similar digestive systems
Put simply, cows (and sheep and goats) rely on the microbes to help digest their food. If the "bugs" get sick, their host animals do too, and a transfer of healthy microbes from a fistulated cow can make all the difference. But where can you see one?
Where to See a Fistulated Cow in New York
Installing a fistula on a cow is surprisingly quick and relatively easy, and these animals can be found at many veterinarian schools across the country. A surefire destination in New York is the animal science program at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.
Fistulated Cows at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY
Cornell University has one of the most respected animal science programs in the country, and they have offered numerous opportunities to interact with their fistulated cows during open house events (above). Want to get even closer? Maybe it's time to enroll in veterinarian school!
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