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German farmers post online 'moo-vies' to calm consumers

MAINZ, Germany – A group of German milk farmers has been entertaining thousands of cow-loving viewers with short "moo-vies" posted online.

The videos posted on the increasingly popular "My Cow Tube" come after several food scandals that have rocked Germany  – including horse meat being found in frozen lasagna last year and the first diagnosis of mad-cow disease since 2009 earlier this month.

More than 170,000 people have watched the cow videos, which are posted twice a week by a group of 16 dairy farmers and are meant to give a humorous insight into their work.

"The negative discussions are getting louder, therefore we want to give the consumer a behind-the-scenes look into the places where their products come from," said Christine Licher from the state association for the diary industry in Lower Saxony, where the group is from.

The videos come against the backdrop of an industry trying to assure consumers that products "made in Germany” are safe and meet adequate livestock breeding. The campaign also has pages on YouTube and Facebook.

In a clip called "Look Who's Munching," farmer Eike lies in the hay among his cows and explains why they have four compartments in their stomachs and regurgitate their food, a process known as rumination. (See above). 

Other topics include cow reproduction, how the animals learn to use a water pump for drinking, and a process they call "cow styling" with rotating brushes – a mechanical back rub that the animals seem to enjoy.

"We now use the camera as often as possible, so that we can capture the special moments and to show that we have nothing to hide," said 44-year-old farmer Amos Venema, from Jemgum, in north Germany, who has 165 cows on his farm.

Stories about cows seem to have a history of captivating German news audiences. In 2011, then 6-year-old cow Yvonne escaped from her farm and hid in the woods for several weeks. After an enormous search and rescue mission the runaway animal was captured and has been living at a sanctuary in Bavaria ever since.

Today, Yvonne has her own live camera, where registered fans  can watch the famous cow in real time at her retirement home.

"Yvonne has calmed down significantly," said Michael Aufhauser, head of the sanctuary Gut Aiderbichl.

"She still has strong charisma, but now lives happily with her two sons in southern Germany and has made no attempts to escape again."