A cow with a hole in the side (18 photos): why and how is it done? What is the reason for their use?

A cow with a hole in its side is not a sight for the faint of heart, but it is one way to understand the structure of the stomach of cattle. In the professional world, such a fistula is called a fistula.

Why is it needed

In a cow, most of the abdominal cavity is a so-called scar. The volume of this section of the stomach is 200 liters. When food enters the mouth, it is first chewed, then enters the esophagus, and from there into the scar. It is here that splitting occurs under the influence of microorganisms and bacteria.

Grass and other foods in the diet are chopped up due to the work of the proventriculus. From the described section, the food passes into the grid, where filtration takes place, the liquid goes further, and large parts again enter the mouth and the process is repeated.

When overeating juicy clover, the animal stops burping food, which needs to be experienced again . As a result, fermentation is impaired, so the food does not break down as required. With such a pathology , a large amount of gas is formed in the stomach of a cow, and in the absence of first aid, this condition often ends in death. To save the individual, the veterinarian has to puncture the scar with a needle, which causes severe pain.

There is another problem with digestion - acidosis. With this disease, a large amount of lactic acid begins to accumulate in the stomach, it needs to be removed through a tube using lavage. After the microflora must be normalized, for this, the contents of the rumen from another donor cow are used. Medicines, together with donor material, have to be injected through the hole; it is possible in the mouth, but using a probe.

If there is an imbalance in the diet of a cow, the rumen is most likely to react. His work is disrupted when the farmer begins to introduce too much juicy or, on the contrary, roughage. The problem can be eliminated much faster if a so-called fistula is placed on the cow, and for this it is necessary to make a hole in the side of the animal surgically.

The productivity of the livestock also depends on the quality of nutrition and the normal functioning of the stomach. You can increase milk yield with such an artificially created control.

A fistula is required for the following processes:

  • fast removal of gases;
  • ease of administration of medicines;
  • if a foreign body enters the digestive system of the animal, it can be eliminated through the hole in the stomach faster;
  • a great way to conduct additional research on an animal and its organs;
  • when the body is intoxicated, it is possible to save the cow.

Many animal advocates think that the hole in the side is a mockery, but in fact, when these problems arise, the cow is able to quickly provide the necessary assistance. Of course, such a spectacle looks unpleasant from the outside, but such an addition does not interfere with a cow to lead a full-fledged lifestyle and does not cause unpleasant sensations.

Compared with the old technologies used by veterinarians, the installation of a fistula has several advantages:

  • instant access to the gastrointestinal tract of the animal;
  • you can quickly cleanse the stomach, remove food that has not been digested, which will eliminate the possibility of the multiplication of pathogenic microorganisms;
  • ration planning, as observing the digestive system helps to know which foods the cow is digesting well and which is not.

The only drawback of the new method is its unattractiveness.


A fistula is always installed surgically, but general anesthesia is not done, only local anesthesia. The method described can be used exclusively on adults, as a rule, heifers are taken after the second birth. The spine remains intact, and the cannula is placed in the hunger fossa.

If you look from the side of the location of the processes of the lumbar vertebrae, then the fistula is at a distance of 8 centimeters from them. The place where the plastic object will be inserted is marked with chalk. It was plastic that became the ideal material for creating a cannula. This material does not oxidize, it does not react to stomach acid and does not react with microorganisms.

The step-by-step process of the operation is as follows.

  • The animal must first be placed in a special pen. For further work, an anesthetic is injected, which will allow you to turn off pain receptors for a while.
  • The incision is made strictly in the marked place. First, the scalpel passes through the skin, then the muscles, and only then the peritoneal tissues are overcome.
  • The veterinarian should use his hands to find the scar wall and pull it up to the hole made.
  • Without touching the muscles, the walls of the scar are attached to the skin, only after that they make an incision.
  • The skin and the scar are stitched together.
  • Before insertion, the cannula is warmed up and inserted into the already created hole. There is no need to fasten it, since the muscles already tightly grip the plastic. Lugs improve traction.
  • The hole is sealed with a cover.

At first, the animal experiences slight discomfort, as after any operation. Complete healing can be observed within a month after the surgery.

At the first stage, antibiotics are necessarily pierced to prevent the possible development of infection. The edges of the wound are treated with hydrogen peroxide.

Follow-up care

The appearance of edema at the site of the operation is a completely natural process. The swelling will decrease within a week, but this will require the animal to be properly cared for. At this time, it is very important to observe hygiene, more often to clean the space where the cow sleeps.

While the cow is recovering, she is under strict veterinary supervision. The animal is kept in a separate stall, contacts with other individuals in the livestock and the environment are excluded. There are no exceptions for feeding and milking. Milking is carried out in a standard manner, the diet is the same as before the operation.

The best time for surgery is spring or autumn, when it is not very hot but warm and free from flies and other pests. The hole in the body of the animal remains until the last day of life.

In Europe, such operations have been carried out for a very long time. On large farms, fistula placement helps keep the herd healthy. In our country, individuals with such a hole cause pity and interest, sometimes even excursions are organized on farms. As strange as it may sound, on some farms the spectators are even allowed to extract food from the stomach of a cow on their own, however, such an attraction is not very popular.

Swiss veterinarians do not believe that a hole in an animal's belly should be criticized by animal advocates. In order for people to understand correctly why this is being done, a detailed description of the procedure is given. In large farms, where each individual counts, this is more of a salvation for the cow than causing harm.

A video story by Swiss veterinarians about cows with a hole in the side, see below.