A study in Germany trained cattle to use the toilet. According to The Guardian, the animals were taught to urinate in a specific space in the barn so that the urine could be collected and treated. The researchers believe that, with the new technique, the farms will be able to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and help to slow down the climatic collapse.
According to the publication, the experiment used a method called MooLoo, which works with a system of light rewards and punishments. When the calves urinated in the designated area, they were given a sweet drink or some crushed barley, and when they needed elsewhere, they were surprised by a brief jet of water;
“Cattle, like many other animals, are very intelligent and can learn a lot,” said Jan Langbein, an animal psychologist at the Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN) in Germany. “Why shouldn’t they learn to use a toilet?”
Still, according to the researchers, animal waste can contaminate the soil and watercourses, in addition to contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and soil acidification.
After 15 training sessions, 11 of 16 calves in the experiment were shown to have been successfully trained, according to the study published in the journal. current biology. Researchers are now seeking to teach animals to also defecate in demarcated areas.
“We want to develop some kind of sensor technology that includes everything,” Langbein said. The scientist also claims that his hope is that “in a few years all the cows will go to the toilet”.
The ammonia produced in cow urine does not directly contribute to climate collapse, but in contact with soil microbes it can be converted to nitrous oxide, one of the most significant greenhouse gases. According to Langbein, initial estimates suggest that if 80% of cattle urine were collected from a barn, ammonia emissions would be reduced by more than half.