To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, scientists look to ‘potty-train’ cows

WION Web Team
LondonUpdated: Sep 14, 2021, 09:34 PM IST


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The scientists seem to be trying to “potty-train” cows as it may pave way for environmentally-friendly farms. Several earlier attempts in this endeavour have been unsuccessful. Using method called 'MooLoo’, the scientists taught calves to use a toilet area in barn. The calves were trained through a system of rewards and mild punishments

In an unusual experiment, the scientists are trying to “potty-train” a herd of cows. The scientists say it can pave way for environmentally friendly farms.  

The scientists claim the cattle farms’ waste often contaminates soil and waterways. It also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and acidification of soil. So, for long, toilet-training cattle has been viewed as desirable. But several earlier attempts have been unsuccessful.  

Watch: Can carbon capture help solve global warming?

In this study, the scientists have tried a method called 'MooLoo’ approach to teach calves to use a toilet area in their barn. It means urine could be collected and treated.  

Jan Langbein, an animal psychologist at the Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN) in Germany, said, “Cattle, like many other animals, are quite clever and they can learn a lot. Why shouldn’t they be able to learn how to use a toilet?”  

Via a system of rewards and mild punishments, the calves were being trained. They were given a sweet drink or some mashed barley when they urinated in the assigned area. And when they relieved themselves elsewhere, they were surprised by a short blast of water from above.  

According to the study published in the journal ‘Current Biology’, 11 out of the 16 calves in the experiment had been successfully toilet-trained after about 15 training sessions in a few weeks.   

The authors suggested, the five calves, who were not reliably trained, probably just need more time to master the skill.