Dairy Cows: They are among us

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Previously I wrote a blog post about the purpose of dairy cows and how some technology has impacted the production of milk. The production of milk is the sole purpose for dairy cows; with specific needs to get larger quantities and better quality of milk, research and technology is used to improve these needs. As progress continues to be made through different areas of research there is a consistent and constant improvement on past creations to aide milk production.

Holy Cow

Holy Cow. Source

Artificial Insemination; the ability to impregnate a cow without the needs for a bull to be present became a solution to mass breed a herd of cows to get a consistent and constant rotation of lactating cows. Artificial Insemination is a remarkable story of tireless workers, dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, to the replacement of fiction to facts and and application of thereof. When it comes to thinking of something and creating it much like in science-fiction, Artificial Insemination was a product of what was first thought of then became real. Artificial Insemination first thought about in 1678 by Leeuwenhoek became a reality in 1784 by Spallanzani. While Artificial Insemination was a solution of getting a cow pregnant quicker, along with analysis information about when the cow is in heat, this process was further improved upon with the process of ‘Sexed Semen’.

Sexed Semen is the process in differentiating between female and male semen. First successfully identified in 1981; though killed the sperm used. Continued research with dairy cows showed that female chromosomes in semen are heavier and have a positive charge compared to male semen. Below is an image that shows the process for which sexed semen is found.

Sexed semen is more expensive than regular bull semen and is known to have a lower conception rate. Research done by Hinde and Bradford shows that dairy cows who give birth to female calf naturally produce more milk compared to if they birthed a male calf. For a lactation cycle of 305 days birthing a female produces 223kg of extra milk. These advancements have increased the rate at which cows produce milk but have also altered the natural birthing gender of cows. Mentioned in the previous blog post the natural birthing gender rate is 47% female, Artificial Insemination increased that figure to around 60% and now with Sexed Semen the female birthing rate is around 90%. This drastic increase in female calves being birthed was the solution to get the most milk out of cows while still maintaining some ethical rights over them. Though the next question that technology is going to answer would be is “How can we get cows to lactate without the need for them to go through a pregnancy?”. However this has lead to ethical concerns for the dairy cows.

The future of technology impacts on the animals and its purpose. When there is no purpose for the animal and humans have no ethical concern for the well being of the animals then ethics are challenged. Presented in H.G. Wells’ ‘The Island of Doctor Moreau‘ is a 1896 science-fiction novel that deals with a ship wrecked man saved by a passing boat and placed on the island of Doctor Moreau who creates human like hybrid beings with animals. The ‘organic’ combination of human intelligence with the abilities of animals is a future that capitalizes on things humans can not do but also what animals can not do. To combine human intelligence with the body of any animal creates a new step in human and animal relationship. When creating an animal/human chimera that still possesses all of the abilities of both a human and a animal (though this would be the ideal scenario) brings forth all of the advantages and disadvantages. Technology inspired from animals is nothing new as we look at the abilities of animals and use some of them for ourselves.

The future of animals mixed with human technology is the general premise for my digital artifact; a board game. From a perspective of animals being combined with future technology to create a cyborg octopus that has the intelligence of man, machine and animal. Players must work together to defeat the Queen Octopus who has become giant from engaging with the natural land, artificial beings and human creations. When left in a natural environment without human interruption animals grow larger. Human curiosity impacted on the natural progress on animals and their behaviour. With challenging the natural order of animals and giving them the power of machines, humans selectively breed animals for specific needs. My board game from my perspective is the next step of human and technological involvement with animals. Unlike H.G Wells novel he did not deal with the mechanical aspects for what humans create just the organic material of human and animal. My board game utilizes the constant need for survival by engaging players with the need to better themselves through combining themselves with technology to further themselves, the game and reach salvation.

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