Just like dogs, the cows can also be taught to use the “carpet”. And, in Germany, an experiment like this has been done to try reduce the emission of polluting gases.
The study, published on Monday (13) in the scientific journal “Current biology”, showed that the emission of ammonia, generated by the urine of animals, can be reduced if the cattle waste is treated.
To try to convince cows to urinate in a specific location, a group of researchers from the University of Auckland and the Federal Institute for Research in Animal Health in Germany, used a technique often used by parents with their children: offer candy as a reward.
The cows were placed in a special corral, a structure with a green enclosure, called MooLoo, where they received, after urinating, a sweet liquid, composed mainly of molasses. The animals that made the need outside the enclosure, on the other hand, received a jet of cold water.
The experiment was carried out with 16 calves.
Cows are trained to urinate in a ‘potty’ in a study to reduce polluting gases — Photo: Thomas Häntzschel/AFP
Because it contains nitrogen, urine, when mixed with feces, turns into ammonia, that causes various environmental problems, such as acid rain, says University of Auckland animal behavior scientist Lindsay Matthews, one of the authors of the research.
Ammonia can also be converted by soil microbes to nitrous oxide, which is the third most harmful greenhouse gas, after methane and carbon dioxide.
From this experiment, the Scientists have calculated that capturing 80% of cattle urine in latrines could lead to a 56% reduction in ammonia emissions.
A single cow can produce about 30 liters of urine per dayMatthews told the Associated Press news agency. In 2019, nitrous oxide comprised 7% of all US greenhouse gases, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Cattle also emit methane through belching.