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Let’s get one thing straight: Cows are sentient, gentle living beings—not cars with built-in gas tanks. While that might seem like common knowledge, there are a number of disturbing images and videos online showing cows with holes drilled into their sides.

Yes, this terrible practice really does happen. Cows who are forced to endure this suffering are called fistulated (or cannulated) cows. Humans cut holes into their sides and remove a chunk of their abdomens to expose their stomachs. The hole is then fitted with a plastic ring to hold their flesh open.

This practice has been around for decades, and animal experimenters and veterinary schools use fistulated cows for “research purposes.” Cows who undergo the horrific procedure need four to six weeks to recover, and they can suffer from complications from surgery, including displaced or distended abdomens, leakage, inflammation, and infections. There’s no doubt that the surgery causes animals pain and discomfort. When humans probe the open hole in their sides, it can’t be fun, either!

Why are cows fistulated? In addition to studying the microbes in fistulated cows’ stomachs, farmers sometimes transfer these microbes to other animals. Some claim that the transfer can improve the health of cows—but the procedure actually seems to benefit the meat and dairy industries, which use it to increase profits. Farmers can look at the contents of the animals’ stomachs and use their observations to maximize the amount of milk and meat that they can get from the cows, who are ultimately exploited and slaughtered.

The torture doesn’t end on the factory farm, either. Fistulated cows are also often put on display at events like recruitments for veterinary schools or even at high schools! Attendees are even invited to reach inside the hole—as if the cow were an object, not a living, sentient being.

The federal Animal Welfare Act—the only law that protects animals used in experiments—does not protect animals used in agricultural experiments, so these cows have no legal protection from cruelty.

Possibly the most disturbing thing we have seen in a while. Farmers in Switzerland, have 'cannulated' cows, putting a…

Posted by TheVeganKind Monthly Subscription Box on Friday, February 7, 2014

Cows have a full range of personalities, and they are intelligent, sensitive animals who don’t deserve to be abused or mutilated for any reason.

What You Can Do to Help

Putting your hand into the stomach of a cow is gross and just downright cruel. The way to help end this undeniably inhumane procedure is to stop supporting the meat and dairy industries. With so many delish vegan foods and recipes, it’s easier than ever to go vegan and be a hero for animals!

Check out our guide to going vegan today!