In New Zealand, cows really go to the bathroom now

In New Zealand, cows really go to the bathroom now


14. September 2021 – 8:51 hour

Training cows to urinate

Crazy Climate Experiment: Calves can obviously be trained to drop their urine in some kind of latrine – this would serve the climate and protect the environment. Researchers from New Zealand and Germany were able to train most of the experiment’s 16 animals to hold urine first. Scientists Lindsey Matthews and Douglas Iliffe of the University of Auckland announced Tuesday. Then the animals urinate in the “toilet”. Cow urine has a high nitrogen content. The goal was to capture and remove nitrogen before it could contaminate the water or turn into a long-lived greenhouse gas.

Calves are trained like children

The farm where the training took place is run by the Institute for Research in Farm Animal Biology in Germany. She added that if the calves urinated in the wrong place, the scientists made the animals’ collars vibrate. But when they actually peed in the toilet bowl, they were rewarded with food. The stable also differs from the others by its bright green color.

“Some people train their babies this way — they put them in the bathroom, wait to pee, and then reward them when they do. It turns out it works for calves too,” Matthews says. In a very short time it became clear that the calves understood the relationship between desired behavior and reward. At the end of the 15-day training, three-quarters of the animals would have deposited three-quarters of their urine into the toilet.

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Giant effect for a better climate

Scientist Douglas Elfe hopes: “If we could capture 10 or 20 percent of urine production, that would be enough to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and nitrate leaching.” Cattle urine is one of the main causes of the nitrogen problem. Any decrease in this ratio will make a difference.

Researcher Matthews says many people refer to them as “crazy scientists.” But the building blocks for further research are in place. (dpa/lgr)

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