It was a week that revealed a lot of bull … and we’re not talking about politics. First, the Internet and mainstream media went wild over a massive Holstein that caused a massive stir partly because of its size, partly because of the too-big-to-butcher decision that saved its life, and partly because so many of those covering the story misidentified its gender – allowing the gender police to briefly replace the grammar police at the top of the most-annoying chart. Before that news could die down, the Holstein was hoisted from the headlines by another huge heifer (notice to gender police – “heifer” used here for alliterative purposes only – see actual gender reveal later in story) whose highly visible musculature humiliates human bodybuilders.
If you haven’t heard about “Knickers,” you’ve really been off the grid. A Holstein Friesian (the proper name for the world’s highest-producing dairy animals) steer (gender reveal – Knickers is a castrated male, also referred to as a bullock), Knickers was sent to the slaughterhouse (‘abattoir’ in Australia where this story is from) by owner Geoff Pearson, who was hoping to get back at least 4,000 burgers from his 1,400 kg (3086 pounds), 192 cm (6 feet, 4 inch) beefy bovine. However, the Perth abattoir could not accommodate the end (not to mention the rest) of Knickers, so the steer was sent back to Pearson, who will let Knickers spend the rest of his days (not in stud – remember, he’s a steer) in a pasture in Myalup. That’s where the famous photos of Knickers towering over his fellow Holstein Friesians were taken, making him as famous as a Kardashian (Cow-dashian?) for a day.
Cattle experts were quick to point out that one reason for Knickers’ immense size is that he’s reached seven-years-old adulthood while most Holstein Friesians rarely make it past two before sliding into slider-dom. While Knickers is just normally big, those same experts were crying fowl over pictures that came out just days later of big bulging Belgian Blues, a bovine breed bred to be hyper-lean and muscular but is now being over-muscled by unscrupulous ranchers using steroids to create a condition known as double-muscling. (See a video here.) While the gender police stayed silent, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other animal activists raised objections and accusations while breeders claimed it’s just a “natural” genetic mutation.
While it’s normally the Chicago Bulls who get noted for their height, news accounts of Knickers compared him to Steph Curry, the Golden State Warrior who is 6’ 3” but can probably outdunk Knickers, who wouldn’t even ride the bench for the Knicks. And although the story of Knickers had a happy ending, freak animals are never a good thing – genetically modified or otherwise – and that type of experimentation is beginning to give some scientists the boldness (it’s hard to call it ‘courage’) to do the same with humans.
Did Knickers send us a warning?