Students at Fillmore Central High School in Nebraska learned about how biology and chemistry are linked through the Nebraska Extension (UNL) Husker Mobile Beef Lab. The mobile meat lab was at the school as part of Fillmore Central’s National FFA Week celebration.

The beef lab has one steer in it. But this isn’t just any steer. This one has a hole in its side big enough to reach an arm into. The steer was 10 months old when it underwent the surgery, says Bob Meduna, UNL Extension educator and beef lab expert.

After the area was numbed, a hole was cut in the hide, the muscle teased apart and a round, rubber fistula that looked like a donut was inserted. When it healed, the muscles closed around the fistula, holding it in place. Whenever the steer is not being used, a rubber plug is put in the hole to keep the steer from dehydrating.

Any student who was brave enough to try, put on a glove and reached their arm into the cow’s rumen.

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