Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dairy Tour

Last Saturday, Bruce led a tour of the University's dairy.It was pretty awesome. There were lots of friends from church, which is how we know a Dairy Sciences major, and lots of cows.

We learned about cow nutrition: cows eat lots of things, including cotton seed.

We saw the milking machines and the calves, the sandy cow beds (sand keeps away disease) and we thought we had seen everything when...
Bruce stuck his hand into a cow's stomach. If you want to get specific, it is the cow's rumen -- the first of a cow's multiple stomachs. In the rumen (root of the word ruminate) a cow's food sits and ferments. Solid, liquid and gas are all present. The ruminal mat is the solid part that floats on the liquid. It's pretty thick. I should know.

I look like a maniac in this picture. Jacob didn't take a photo when I had a very exploratory, scientific look on my face because I wasn't looking at the camera. Don't worry, no cows were harmed in the making of this dairy tour. This particular cow leads a normal life except that it gets to be part of studies every once in a while. It actually probably will live longer than other cows, becuase it is a valuable tool for science now that it has a hole in its side.

Here is another friend of ours, looking less like a maniac than me. Obviously it's pretty cool though; you can see how much we enjoyed looking into a cow.

Click to enlarge any of the photos, and don't forget to vote in the romantic soup poll on the left!


Jessica Bybee said...

Looks awesome! Sorry we missed it!
I think Tomato is romantic--- red and you can do so many things with it--- spice it up, add cheese, dip with grilled cheese! Variety is romantic!

Anna said...

If I don't like tomato soup, is that saying something about me?

Anonymous said...

Split pea is the most romantic one mentioned because Bernard was proposing to Bianca when they were ordering "pea so-oup" (high pitched cricket voice). Clam Chowder and Italian Wedding soup seem like much more romantic ones to me. But the most romantic soup I ever had was actually just plain water with a romantic message in a mini bottle sent to me by my new husband and delivered to me by the waitress at The Heather.

Alysa said...

anna - definitely not. As you can see not everyone thinks tomato is the most romantic of the soups. I think it is, but it is not my favorite. Romance, after all, can be unsavory. I think that chicken noodle is the most heartwarming of the soups.

jessica - I agree! variety is romantic! I had never thought of that!

Anonymous said...

FTD Benjamin has the look of a discriminating and knowledgeable milk connosieur.

Anonymous said...

Animal nutrition question:

Having observed unprocessed grains pass relatively undisturbed through the digestive tract of horses (non ruminants) raises two questions--

1. Do farm animals derive any nutritional benefits from grains that are still within their protective coating?

2. How does passing through the digestive tract of an animal affect the germination and seedling viability of different plants?

Inquiring minds want to know if you can efficiently feed uncracked grain to you animals, then reclaim and plant it.

Umm, tomato I guess. No farmers have been trying to reclaim and recycle it?

The Scott & Christie Hardey Family said...

Ok that's just weird. Was the cow injured or sick somehow and they had to cut a hole in it to keep it alive? Or did they do that simply to study the cow's digestive system?

Alysa said...

Bruce said that unground corn passed right through the cows without giving them nutrients. Much like non-ruminants. I assume that it is still viable for seedlings after this.

They feed the cattle both ground corn (so that they can get those nutrients) and corn sileage (the whole stalk, cob and all put through a coarse grind).

I very much doubt it would be efficient to feed uncracked grain to your animals and then replant it. If it's not cracked (by you or by their digestion) they're not getting the nutrients, right?

Although the one exception I can think of is that Bruce said they feed the cows straw for the "dry period" right before they calve. This is because they don't actually need the nutrients from the other stuff (and in fact do better without it. I believe he wrote a paper on this). So you could feed them uncracked grain then, and plant it afterward, but feeding them straw is probably cheaper and easier and that way you don't have to reclaim your grain, you can just plant it.

Alysa said...

I don't think this particular cow was sick, but they do it so that they can make life better for cows everywhere. She's kinda takin' one for the team, I think.

Jill Rogers said...

Wow- You are a brave soul!! I SOOO wouldn't have brave enough to stick my arm into the body of a cow...Yuck...But I sure envy you for doing it! :-)

P.S. Michael's web page thing is being retarded, but once he figures out how to get the dumb thing to actually send out the emails, he'll put a "shout out" to your blog.

Katie Smith said...

Wow...if I ever have any questions about the science of a dairy I know who to come to! Looks like fun...I bet it smelled good too.

Jenni Blaser said...

Even though the whole sticking your hand in a cow's stomach is gross, I'd so do it! That's so cool! :)