When cows are “forced” to excrete environmentally harmful substances that reach groundwater. So researchers from Germany and New Zealand are working together on a toilet for cows. This harmful urine must infect animals.
Milk, cream, butter and yoghurt: in Germany The number of people per capita consumed last year 84.23 kg of fresh dairy products. Consumers have New Zealand cows to thank for most of the products. Because the country The largest exporter of milk and dairy products all over the world.
annoying media reports About 6.5 million New Zealand cows provide about 22 million liters of milk each year. This has severe effects on the environment. Because cow feces and urine contain ammonia, nitrates and nitrogen oxides that enter groundwater every time a cow “must go”. The cow toilet should solve this problem now.
How does a cow toilet work?
The idea for the cow toilet came from a collaboration between behavioral researchers at Leibniz Institute for User Biology (FBN) and scientists University of Auckland in New Zealand. The researchers published their findings together in the specialized journal current biology.
The focus was on the question of how people can control the behavior of eliminating cows. In 16 calves, scientists have shown for the first time that animals can hold their own urine. Now they must be trained to urinate in a certain place. For this purpose, cows are equipped with special collars.
Researchers teach cows to go to the toilet
If the cows started doing their business in the wrong place, the researchers made the collars vibrate. While this did not cause the animals physical pain, it did teach them to walk a short distance to the toilet box. There they received a reward in the form of food.
“It’s how some people train their children. They put them in the toilet, wait for them to pee, and then reward them when they do,” said University of Auckland researcher Lindsay Matthews. It turns out that this procedure also works for cows.
Over time, the research group increased the distance between the toilet and the cows. If the calves do not go to the appropriate toilet box, they are sprayed with a little cold water to show their fault. After only 20 to 25 attempts, the cows learned where to go when they “have to”.
Millions of cows will be trained to go to the toilet
Although the research team successfully trained the 16 calves, greater challenges still lie ahead. Because the system should soon be training millions of animals to go to the cow toilet.
Project model calculations showed that collecting about 80 percent of cow urine in proper latrines could lead to a 56 percent reduction in ammonia emissions. According to the researchers, the animals would also benefit from staying in a cleaner environment.
“If we can really use animal intelligence to practically create toilets for cows, it will benefit everyone: the cows, the animal owners and the environment,” says behavioral biologist Lars Schrader.
The cow toilet is not the first project to protect the environment from animal waste. In the past, for example, a British start-up developed a mask that could be used to neutralize environmentally harmful cow burps.
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