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Russia Says It Has Developed a Cow That Doesn't Need to Eat

With a ban on Western food imports still in effect, Russia has developed some novel solutions to its meat shortage. According to state-run media, breeders have engineered a cow that can survive without eating for long stretches of time.

Sanctions haven't been kind to Mother Russia.

With its reciprocal ban of Western food imports still in effect, the country has flirted with dozens of solutions to replace the beef, pork, poultry, and other products that have become scarce since last year. Crocodile meat from the Philippines was one solution. Mussels—from landlocked Belarus, curiously enough—were another.

But if Russians need beef, why not just raise more cows? Hell, why not build a better cow?

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According to state-run newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, that's exactly what breeders in the southern Russian republic of Kalmykia have done.

Dubbed the "anti-crisis" cow, the new breed can allegedly survive for long stretches of time without eating, "much like the camels that have long roamed the steppes of Kalmykia," according to the Moscow Times. While other breeds might simply keel over in the cold, this cow is protected by a "thick woolen coat" and can graze solely on the meager amounts of food it finds buried beneath the snow. The breed has been officially registered with the Russian Ministry of Agriculture.

The breed, known as "Aita" or "excellent," was reportedly 15 years in the making—and it just so happens to have been unveiled at a time when beef prices have skyrocketed. Less than half of the beef consumed in the country was produced domestically when Russia began its embargo on Western imports last year.

But the miraculous appearance of Aita could change all that, if the Russian press is to be believed. "The Aita can live for a long time on its own internal fat. Yes, it might lose weight, but still it will give birth and feed its young," one breeder told Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Slate's Joshua Keating is unconvinced: "The story's light of specifics and this has an air of Soviet-style scientific propaganda around it. But with beef prices up more than 20 percent last year, it's not surprising that consumers might be hoping for a miracle cow."