In the “you learn something new every day” category, I was at the hardware store (McGuckin’s, of course) and came across cow magnets . At first I thought this product name was some sort of hardware joke, sort of like Duck Tape brand duct tape, which really isn’t used for (or on) ducks at all.
Of course, this exposes the fact that I’ve never lived or worked in a heavily agricultural region, because I’m sure anyone who has even basic first-hand knowledge of cows probably knows that cow magnets are, in fact, a very real and very useful product. Apparently, you feed your calf the magnet at branding time, which then remains in the cow’s rumen for the rest of its life, and protects the cow from hardware disease , which is inflammation of the digestive tract caused when the cow inevitably consumes tramp iron (bailing, barbed wire, staple, nails, etc.) while grazing.
On a slightly morbid (yet eco-friendly) note, Wikipedia notes that after the cow is slaughtered, the magnet is removed and the farmer sells the metal for scrap.
I really had no inkling of such things. Golly.