Greenhouse gases are dangerous for our planet, and mass livestock farming, which produces large amounts of urine and feces, also contributes to them. Researchers have found ways to reduce the environmental impact of livestock and found it. They managed to teach the cows to go to the toilet.

How does livestock farming threaten the planet?

Globally, about 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock farming. Agriculture is the largest source of ammonia emissions, which indirectly contributes to the production of greenhouse gases. In Europe, for example, 90% of ammonia emissions come from agriculture. When a cow grazes freely, she goes to the toilet anywhere and a large amount of excrement in a small area often leads to contamination of the soil and groundwater. When cows are confined to stables, excrement mixes with urine in a small space and this leads to the formation of ammonia. After contact with the soil, ammonia from cow waste is converted into nitrous oxide, a known greenhouse gas.

Credit: FBN

Cows going to the toilet

Many people think that it is possible to train only a dog or a cat. Cows are very intelligent and easy to learn. A study was conducted in Germany, during which cows learned to go to the toilet. The team of scientists from FBN and FLI in Germany and the University of Auckland in New Zealand began to potty-train the calves, in a process they called “MooLoo training.”

Credit: FBN

„It’s usually assumed that cattle are not capable of controlling defecation or urination. Why shouldn’t (cattle) be able to learn how to use a toilet? Animals are quite clever, and they can learn a lot.” Said Jan Langbein, co-author of a study published Monday in the journal Current Biology.

How did the cow training go?

The training of the cows was carried out in the form of rewards. The cows were placed in a closed latrine and were rewarded whenever the cows did the need. The reward was crushed barley or fresh water with a mixture of electrolytes.

Credit: FBN

The cows soon found out that they would only be rewarded if they used the toilet. A deterrent was also used to prevent the cows from urinating outside, but only in the toilet. When the cow went to the toilet outside, an unpleasant sound was made in her ears, but it didn’t help, so she was finally sprayed with water for 3 seconds. Training cows in the toilet is similar to teaching children to go to the potty. Capturing 80% of cattle urine in a model like the MooLoo could lead to a 56% reduction in ammonia emissions. The results are fascinating, most cows learned to use the toilet in a short time.

Langbein said he hoped that “in a few years all cows will go to a toilet.”