Also known as turbo cows, German diary breeds, like German cars, are very popular all over the world because of their performance and reliability. Thanks to information technology over the last decades, German scientists have succeeded in combining the best genetic characteristics and have expanded their knowledge of the genome to create the “Übercow,” a “super cow” with a productivity of milk four times higher than in the past. In the years to come, it will also no longer have horns among its characterizing traits.
Horns evolved historically to protect the cow and give it more autonomy. They are also important for milk production and for the overall well-being of the animal. However, in the world of factory farms with hundreds of cows around one another in close quarters, horns can be dangerous. After decades of painful dehorning of cattle with a branding iron, German breeders and scientists continue to work towards a future where cows are born without horns and yet can still deliver the same milk performance.
Yet if the cow is crafted to be a perfect technological and financially advantageous milk-making machine, what is left of the cow as a living being?