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Potty Trained Cows are no Joke for the Climate

Potty Trained Cows are no Joke for the Climate

One small pee for cows, one giant leap for mankind. At least, that’s what a team of scientists in Dummerstorf, Germany, believe could be a potent solution for manmade climate change.

While grand experiments around the world are being tested to prevent disastrous global warming, including giant machines sucking up CO2 and large-scale seagrass restoration, the researchers from the University of Auckland and Germany’s Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN) say that potty training — or as they term it, “learned control of urinary reflexes” — is an “original and hitherto unrealized opportunity” in the fight against global warming.

During the study, the findings of which were published in the scientific journal Cell Biology in September, the team carried out potty training for 16 cows. A two-by-two-meter pen acted as a designated toilet. Each time one of the young calves entered the so-called “MooLoo” and urinated, within a minute they were given a reward: a hatch opened up to offer them a sweet, electrolyte liquid (the same system used for robotic milking). But if they urinated outside the MooLoo, they were given a mild punishment: a three-second squirt of cold water (any longer and the cows began to enjoy it). Their urine was then collected, treated and neutralized.

As the training progressed, the cows were moved further and further from the toilet, increasing the effort required. Diuretics were given to the cattle to get them to urinate more because of the limited time to run the experiments under ethics guidelines. 

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