Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bovine Mammary Enhancement

I first encountered the tawdry underbelly, so to speak, of cattle shows via a Dave Barry column.

There are men in Wisconsin who are using artificial means to make their cows' udders more attractive. Why? Because these men are very, very lonely.

As you know (like HECK you do), a standard cow has one udder, which is divided into quarters, each of which has a nipple, or "teat."

Livestock judges - who, I'm guessing, are predominantly male - prefer cows with big, round, firm udders. The judges are not interested in cows with droopy udders, even if these cows are smarter and have nicer personalities.

Here's where the scandal comes in: There are people whose job is to prepare cows for livestock shows. These people are called (I swear) "cow fitters." Most cow fitters are honest. "As honest as a cow fitter" is an expression you hear frequently in the Heartland. Unfortunately, in recent years, a growing number of "bad apple" fitters have been artificially enhancing udders using various injections.This ticks off honest dairy farmers such as (I swear) Elmo Wendorf of Oconomowoc, Wis., who is quoted in the Journal Sentinel as follows:
"What they're trying to do is make both rear quarters absolutely equal, both 36 double-D. It's kind of like women having a breast implant. People really hate it when I compare cows to humans, but it's kind of the same."

The tampering is invisible to the naked eyeball, and most cows are too loyal, or just plain too scared, to squeal on their fitters.
Fortunately, there is hope, thanks to the work of cow scientists at the University of Wisconsin. According to the Journal Sentinel, these scientists have developed a technique, using ultrasound, to check udders for tampering.

As Dr. O'Brien told the Journal Sentinel (I swear): "We think we could clean up the Miss America contest with the same technology."

Further research (because who can resist typing "udder tampering" into Google?) found this 2004 Australian scandal.

The four offenders, and their cows, have been sent home in disgrace.

I hope the cows were able to regain their self-respect.

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