In Germany, cows were taught to go to the bathroom (PHOTO)

In Germany, cows were taught to go to the bathroom (PHOTO)

11 out of 16 calves are toilet trained.

Cows were trained in Germany to go to the toilet (PHOTOS)

In Germany, scientists taught cows to go to the toilet. They believe it can help farmers reduce water pollution and cut greenhouse gas emissions, Channel 24 reports.

Ammonia in cow urine is known to release nitric oxide when released into the soil. Around the world, approximately 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from animal husbandry.

How cows were taught to go to the toilet

The experiment was carried out on a farm run by the Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology in Dammerstorf. Researchers Lindsey Matthews and Douglas Elliff from the University of Auckland said that the training was conducted on the principle of “carrot and stick”.

To do this, they set up a special area called MooLoos, lined with artificial grass, where cows can safely urinate without endangering the environment.

First-stage calves taking turns driving them into MooLoos and rewarding them with food if they did their “little thing” there.

The next step was to increase the distance to the restroom. If there were “accidents” in another part of the barn, cows were sprayed with water.Quite quickly, 11 out of 16 calves were toilet trained.

Cows independently initiated the entrance to the toilet, making an average of 15 up to 20 urinations. And at the end, three-quarters of the animals did three-quarters of their urination in the latrine,” Matthews said.

Future Challenges

If cows are mostly kept in barns in Germany, the next step is to see how the system would work in the context of New Zealand, where cattle spend most of their time in open pens.

However, animals are collected for milking and supplementation, so they could use a special latrine during this time. In addition, they can be installed outdoors. And even if this approach is not very successful, scientists are convinced that it would still have significant environmental benefits.

The more urine we can capture, the less we will need to reduce the number of cattle to achieve emissions targets. And the less we will have to compromise on the availability of milk, butter, cheese and meat from cattle, the researchers note.

Scaling up to make it economically feasible to train millions of animals could be another challenge. This can be achieved with urination detection sensors and automatic reward systems.