When you have your hand up a cow’s behind for the first time, you’re literally groping in the dark. Unable to see what you’re touching and armed with only textbook knowledge of cow anatomy, it’s easy to make a wrong move, which in your first rectal class can mean misdiagnosing a cow pregnancy or not even feeling your first uterus. That’s all changed with the advent of rectal simulators.
Dubbed Breed’n Betsy, this metal-framed simulator with a latex back-end and internal organs allows students to perfect their pregnancy-testing, artificial-insemination, and embryo-transferring techniques before they touch a living cow. After you put on your lubricated glove, you just plunge your hand into the cow and feel around to learn the positions of latex uteri, ovaries, and cervixes. There are also upgrades: A water-filled acrylic tube simulates real-cow temperatures, and you can switch out the latex organs for real ones from your local slaughterhouse (oh goodie!). So after you’ve grown comfortable performing rectal exams on this Frankensteinian mishmash of organs, you can confidently do the same to a living, breathing bovine.
England’s Bristol University snatched up two Breed’n Betsy models—replacing six living cows per student—and is already seeing the benefits: Veterinary students get competent at internal exams much faster now and the cows don’t have to suffer through having clumsy hands punching up their insides. That’s all because, unlike in the past, students can now practice roaming around cow innards whenever they want.”The first rectalling class with a new group of students is much more successful [now],” veterinary teach Mike Steele said in a press release. (Yes, “rectalling” is apparently a verb.) “No student is in a cow for more than five minutes now and up to 90 per cent leave the first session having felt a uterus, most differentiating whether pregnant or not.”
Thanks to the Breed’n Betsy, the next generation veterinarians will start out more confident and competent in the art of rectal insertion—welcome news for cows and people that eat them.
80beats: To Find the Future of Biofuels, Punch a Hole in a Cow
Science Not Fiction: You Can’t Make Chocolate Milk By Feeding a Cow Chocolate
Not Exactly Rocket Science: Google Earth shows that cow and deer herds align like compass needles
80beats: Cow Genome May Allow Farmers to Breed a Better Milk Cow
Image: University of Bristol