CM – « MooLoo »: Scientists practice potty training to save the planet


If you can potty a child, you can potty a cow. At least that was the theory that a group of researchers in Germany tested to find a solution to the environmental damage caused by livestock waste.

“It is normally assumed that cattle are unable to defecate or urinate Jan Langbein, co-author of a study published Monday in Current Biology magazine.

Breeding cattle produce around 66-88 pounds of feces and 8 gallons of urine every day and can free themselves where they want. However, the spread of their waste into the soil can have a negative impact on the environment.

Agriculture is the largest source of global ammonia emissions, and animal husbandry makes up more than half of that contribution, the researchers found in a press release and added that 90% of ammonia emissions in Europe come from agriculture.

While ammonia produced from cow waste does not contribute directly to climate change, when mixed with the soil it is converted into nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas . It also contaminates the soil and local waterways.

The central question for Langbein, animal psychologist at the Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN) in Germany, and his team was: “Why should (cattle) not be able to learn to use a toilet? Animals are pretty smart and can learn a lot. « Langbein said in a statement.

The team of scientists from FBN and FLI in Germany and the University of Auckland in New Zealand began potty training the calves, a process they » MooLoo-Training “.

In the first training phase, the cattle were brought into a closed latrine. And when they urinated, they were rewarded with either an electrolyte mixture or crushed barley.

“As soon as they were allowed outside, the calves went to the toilet to get their reward, but they soon learned that there was only one reward when they urinate. ”Neele Dirksen of FBN, lead author of the study, told CNN.

To encourage calves to use the toilets, the researchers also developed a deterrent. « We used in-ear headphones first and made a very gross noise when they urinated outside, » said Langbein. “We thought that would punish the animals, but they didn’t care. Ultimately, a splash of water worked well as a gentle deterrent. ”

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The calves were trained for 45 minutes every other day. And after 10 days of training, the team was able to successfully train 11 of the 16 calves involved in the experiment.

The results showed that calves do on a similar level as children when learning potty training and do better than very young children.

The study showed that potty training of calves was possible, and Langbein said he hoped « in a few years all cows will go to the toilet ».


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