Sunday, January 20, 2008

No, Not Silver Bullets


These are not silver bullets. Nor are the radioactive things that Homer Simpson removes from his shirt and tosses out the car window.

In my on-going attempt to shine a light for city folks to see and learn about country ways, I present yet another agricultural topic.

The photo above is of cow magnets, and I know that it sounds like I’m pulling your collective legs hers, but this is a device that beef and dairy farmers use. Each cow gets one shoved down its throat where it settles in the rumen or reticulum and remains their throughout the animal’s life because they cannot be passed through a cow's 4th bonivial meta-colon.

When the cow grazes, it often consumes and swallows bits of metal like barbed wire, staples, nails and general trash. These objects are indigestible and often sharp and may lodge somewhere or at least cause inflammation resulting in what is known as hardware disease, which manifests as lower weight gain and poor milk production.

The cow magnet attracts and holds onto metal objects in the cows stomach and prevents them from becoming lodged in the animal's tissue. Also, these can be recovered during rendering and then given to another cow to use through its life time.

15 Comments:

Blogger Donna said...

Yep, when Cliff worked at a butcher shop, he had access to plenty of "slightly-used" cow magnets.

We lost a cow to hardware disease years ago; at some point before we bought her, she had eaten about a pound of roofing nails (Cliff cut her open to see why she died). I don't have any idea how! Maybe someone poured sweet feed atop nails?

6:18 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

What a shame, Donna. Even a cow magnet wouldn't have done much to help with a pound of nails.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Okay, I think I've got it. But I'm picturing this magnet holding on to so much metal stuff inside the cow that it must hurt. And what is "rendering?" Killing the cow???

(A metal theme seems to be happening this morning...)

6:35 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

Okay GUY......this is almost too weird to believe. But you usually speak the truth (usually).

8:20 AM  
Anonymous columbiacontrolfreak said...

Cow magnets can be bought at any decent feed store. They work and it's just funky to see the corroded wad of metal left inside the cow when they are butchered.

8:43 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, the magnets are heavy and will hold objects in a stationary position. It's like how you can put your finger on a blade, it is only a problem when you move the blade or the finger.

Rendering is what is done with all the stuff the butcher can't use. It goes to a plant that turns it into pet food, soap, gelatin, bone meal, blood meal, glue...Trust me, you don't want to know about Jello.

Auntie, I will put some magnets in my truck and show them to you the next time I see you.

8:43 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

CCF, Thanks for helping me with the doubting Auntie on this one.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thanks for clearing things up - and you're right. I don't want to know about Jello.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, we used to play for hours with cow magnets.

We boys didn't much care about where they came from, but my girl cousins....

They're also great for magnetizing tools.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

They say that it is very important that you point the magnet in the right direction when installed if you ever want the cow to get bred.
Unless of course you are one of them that beleives that opposites attract....

11:33 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

Guy - please consider banning Gearhead for that bad pun, please!

3:39 PM  
Blogger Mike S said...

This is rather old technology. As a youth I always wondered whether I could feed a cow enough magnets to make stuff stick to the outside. We used to get these in Canada, great fun explaining them to 'city bred' Customs Agents.

4:17 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Gearhead, They aren't meant to go in that end... But I suppose...

Auntie, is there such a thing as a good pun?

Mike, back then you probably could have told them it was plutonium and they would have said, "OK, Drive safely."

Anon, that's the thing, you could never tell if they were new or not.

5:59 AM  
Blogger weese said...

wow. the things i learn here...

4:37 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Happy to help...

8:12 AM  

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