Just For Kids Kid News

May 14, 1998|By Chicago Tribune

A nose by any other name...

Smile and the world knows you're happy. But what about when you run across something smelly?

How do people around the world show that they're grossed out by something stinkified? Take a peek at all the ways to say P.U.!

When something stinks in ...

The U.S.: People might squeeze their nose between thumb and forefinger and say, "Peeeee-yew!"

France: They often wrinkle the nose, twist the mouth, gradually pull back the head and say, "Pouah!" (pronounced quickly, poo-ahh).

Japan: Females might make a face and cover the nose and mouth with one hand. Males might burst out, "Kusai!"

Peru: People will fan the nose with a hand and say, "Puf!"

Germany: They'll roll the eyes as if about to pass out and say, "Eeeeeeeeee!

Stomach window lets scientists examine moo goo

If you are what you eat, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign know their cattle very, very well. Because these cows are moos with a view.

As many as two dozen holsteins at the UI Department of Animal Sciences have been surgically fitted with a stomach window called a cannula.

Basically, a cannula looks like a ship porthole. A plastic cylinder is inserted in a cow, and the hole is plugged with a stopper in the same material. When a day's ration of cow chow hits the rumen - the first part of Bessie's four-part stomach - scientists like Professor George Fahey Jr. roll up their sleeves and dig in.

"We open the windows, remove some of the contents and study how efficiently the feed is being digested," Fahey says.

But why? What's the point of being elbow deep in chewed-up moo goo? "Today's dairy cow produces 90 to 100 pounds of milk each day," Fahey says. "Twenty-five years ago, they produced only 30 to 35 pounds a day." Studying what Bessie eats and how she processes it makes economic sense.

When it comes to making meat, Fahey says cows gain 1 pound of body weight for every 7 pounds of food they eat. Pigs gain 1 pound for every 4 pounds of grain consumed. And chickens rule the roost, gaining 1 pound for every 2 or 3 pounds of chick chow. "Ideally, our research will one day help us create a cow that could convert food as efficiently as that chicken. But it hasn't happened yet."

Does wearing the window hurt? "It doesn't seem to bother them at all," Fahey says. "They are up and around just hours after the surgery. The hardest part of the whole procedure is trying to convince a 1,000-pound cow to settle down on an operating table."

Once customized, the cows heal quickly and go on to live fairly normal lives. "They can graze, run, mate, and even give birth like any other cow. Some live as long as 12 to 15 years," Fahey says. "We wouldn't want them to suffer."

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has taken no official position on the use of cannula in cows. But the group prefers that researchers use procedures that are as non-invasive as possible.

And consider the alternative to the cannula. Before the cannula was invented, the only way to study a cow's digestive process was by making it an ex-cow. "The cannula save researchers countless slaughter experiments," Fahey says. "They save countless bovine lives."

Pub Date: 5/14/98

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