ANIMAL rights activists have reacted with fury after footage shows cows having their stomachs punctured and fitted with “windows” at Europe’s largest research centre.
Footage, filmed between February and May in France, shows a man putting his whole arm inside a cow’s stomach – a common practice which helps farmers obverse which pasture helps the animal produce more milk.
The hole is created using a surgical procedure called ‘rumen fistula’ which allows researchers to look inside the cow’s digestive system.
It is frequently performed at veterinary schools and is viewed as a benefit for the cows whose health is not adversely impacted by the procedure.
Professor Brian Aldridge, a specialist in large animal internal medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine in Illinois told Modern Farmer: “To put one in would take about an hour and a half.”
Dr Susan Fubini, professor of large animal surgery at Cornell University said the fistulated cows “are without a doubt the happiest animals in our hospital.”
Despite this being a common procedure, dating back to the 1920s, animal rights group L214 have filed a complaint this week based on the recent pictures from France.
Clips were filmed in the north-western French department of Sarthe, at the Sourches facility owned by the Sanders company, a subsidy of French agro-industrial corporation, Avril Group.
French TV host Nagui Fam is also calling for the practice to stop, arguing it is bad for the animals’ health.
L214 spokesperson Barbara Boyer said: “We obtained the images after a whistleblower who works there contacted us to alert us to the conditions there.
“We have filed a complaint with the authorities.”
In the video, presenter Nagui said: “There are also chickens at the centre that are so fat that they cannot even walk anymore, as well as very sick pigs, calves and rabbits that are trapped in tiny cages.
“For Sanders, these cows are just milk-producing machines that need to have their settings optimised.”
We have filed a complaint with the authorities
He added: “Other experiments are carried out on isolated calves in small enclosures.
“The pigs only have cold metal as their environment. The rabbits are prisoners in their small cages and they will know only these cages their whole lives. They will never get out.”
The research centre said only six cows have been fitted with the windows.
It says they need the windows to carry out an experiment to find out how to reduce the use of antibiotics in the farming business.
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Avril spokesperson Tom Doron insists the experiments come with “rigorous veterinary monitoring and are considered painless for the animal.”
They also claim to be studying how to reduce methane production, a major contributor to climate change, according to the European Commission.
Helene Thouy, L214’s lawyer, said: “The Rural Code provides that animal testing is permitted only when strictly necessary. Making dairy cows more productive does not seem to fall into this category.”
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