Omnivore - Considering cow comfort

Cows in Chilton, Wis. get chiropractic massages


So often in the media these days we are bombarded with images, PETA videos, documentaries, and exposés depicting the horrors of factory farming. You know the ones: cows standing knee-deep in their own feces, chickens being tossed around like beach balls and crammed into tiny cages as they're loaded on trucks. It is, for the most part, common knowledge that industrial farming employs some pretty horrific practices in order to meet the bottom line. For most of us, we've heard it all before. We've seen Food Inc., and understand that our food system is flawed if not completely, well, fucked.

On the other hand, all of the debate surrounding our food system has inspired plenty of folks to demand change. Many farmers have set out to revise their practices, often opting for smarter, safer, and cruelty-free ways of doing things. These are the images we don't see enough of.

Even though we don't see it all that often (suffering cows must get more page views than happy ones), change is happening. It's out there. If it wasn't, people like veterinarian Sara Gilbertson would be out of a job. In addition to being a vet, Gilbertson is also an animal chiropractor who adjusts the spines of horses, dogs, cats, and cattle.

Recently, Gilbert was called to a farm in Chilton, Wis. to treat a 7-year-old cow named Lucky. A highly productive dairy cow when healthy, Lucky had apparently developed a pain in her right rear leg, and began walking with a limp. Instead of prescribing pain pills, Gilbertson gave Lucky a chiropractic adjustment, massaging and squeezing the cow's spine from head to tail. After the procedure, the cow reclined calmly, obviously comfortable and relaxed.

Video after the jump