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WASTE WATCH: Big Bucks for Bull Semen in Ohio Prisons

LONDON, Ohio (Brooks Jarosz) -- There's no bull about it you're being milked out of tens of thousands of dollars and that got us asking questions and following the money.

Its bucks for bulls that's actually a cash cow, saving Ohio taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.

It may look and smell like your average farm but several of those farms you are paying for because they're located at prisons in Ohio.

"Coming to prison, it's not a good thing," inmate Charles Warren said. "But you have to make the best out of your situations, so that's what I've done."

Just a few hundred feet from their cells, inmates like Charles Warren spend the morning at the London Dairy Farm. They milk, clean and care for hundreds of dairy cows.

"We may not be putting farmers on the street -- we're teaching guys to work," farm manager Ray Moon said.

While the inmates do the dirty work, there's a more scientific operation happening here. It's locked away and comes inside a cold canister.

Believe it or not, $150,000 of your money was just approved by the State Controlling Board to artificially inseminate hundreds of cows in the state prison system.

Just this year, well over $15,000 has been spent on semen at the farm in London to keep the cows pregnant.

"150 thousand is a big number," Moon said. "That is two years worth divided among 5 dairies. Once you break that down, it's industry standard."

Staff members are trained on breeding to save some cash, however, the process and each service costs about 23 dollars.

There's no guarantees but farmers say by the second or third try the cows are successfully bread. The other cows are milked daily, according to farm managers.

Last year, nearly 1.8 million gallons of milk were produced for prisons across Ohio.

Veterinarians, like Dr. Troy Brick, from the Ohio State University, are paid to check out the cows progress. He educated students, inmates and staff and it's all hands-on.

"I've become quite the cowboy since I've been out here, I can say that," Warren said.

It's been happening for decades at this farm, saving the state thousands for meat and milk to feed prisoners. It all begins with the $150,000 for those precious straws of semen.

"It's a pretty common thing really across the nation," Moon said.

The inmates have to reach a certain security level before they can work on the farm. Many times its not by choice, instead, they're forced to do the work.
 
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