Researchers have recently succeeded in potty-training cows, specifically enabling them to urinate in a specially constructed toilet, in an initiative that could contribute to the curbing of greenhouse emissions.
According to Mail Online, when cattle are allowed to "grace and relieve themselves freely, the discharge of their bodily waste can result in contamination of local soil, as well as nearby waterways.
And while this problem is controllable through the confinement of cows to barns, the buildup of urine and feces in close quarters can yield ammonia instead.
Ammonia, leaching into the soil, can be converted by bacteria into nitrous oxide, one of the top three greenhouse gases after carbon dioxide and methane.
In fact, as specified in this report, it is the largest source of ammonia emissions, with livestock farming accounting for more than 50 percent of this contribution.
'Special Toilet' for Cows
In their research published in Current Biology, experts from the Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology in Germany designed a toilet specifically for cows called "MooLoo," to collect ammonia for treatment.
By training calves to use the MooLoo, the team said it would be possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop more open and animal-friendly farms.
According to the Dummerstorf, Germany-based Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology's Jan Langbein, an animal psychologist and author of the paper, t is commonly assumed that cattle don't have the capacity to control urination or defecation.
Nevertheless, he explained, they, in the team, challenged such thinking. He elaborated that cattle, like many other animals, are somewhat clever and can learn a lot.
For the calves' toilet training, the researchers rewarded the animals with a sugar treat each time they urinated in the special toilet.
Following the sugar treat reward for the animals, the next step involved enabling them to get inside the toilet enclosure from the outside each time they needed to relieve themselves.
Langbein explained that there is a need to include the animals in the process, not to mention training them to follow what they need to learn.
Along with the positive reinforcement, the research team also set out to discourage the calves from urinating outside the special toilet.
All Cows in the Future to Urinate in a Toilet
A similar Breaking News Time report specified, if the calves have urinated outside the MooLoo, the researchers punished them by using in-ear headphones and playing quite a nasty sound.
The animal psychologist also said they thought "this would punish the animals, not too aversively," although they did not care. Eventually, a splash of water worked very well as a gentle detergent.
Over the period of only a couple of weeks, the researchers succeeded in training 11 out of 16 calves engaged in the experiment to use the special toilet, with animals performing too, if not better than young children being trained to use the toilet for the first time.
With their preliminary research complete, the research team is now keen to transfer what they have learned in their tests to actual cattle housing, not to mention outdoor systems.
Commenting on their study findings, Dr. Langbein forecasted that all cows would be going to a toilet to urinate in a few years.
Report about potty-training cattle in MooLoo is shown on The Telegraph's YouTube video below:
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