Cows can be toilet trained in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, researchers have said.
Scientists trained the animals to use a designated toilet in the study, which took place in Germany. After that, their urine was collected and processed.
When ammonia from cow urine reacts with soil, it produces the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide.
Cattle account for approximately 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions from human activities worldwide.
At the Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology’s farm, researchers attempted to teach 16 cows to use the toilet, dubbed the “MooLoo.”
The animals were placed in the MooLoo pen and were rewarded for urinating with food. They were then placed in an area adjacent to the MooLoo and rewarded for walking into the pen and urinating.
Those who urinated outside of the MooLoo received a three-second water squirt.
The distance from the toilet was increased as part of the third stage of training, and the rewards and punishments were maintained.
By the end of the 10 training sessions, researchers found that 11 of the animals were successfully toilet trained.
“Very quickly, within 15 to 20 urinations on average, the cows would self-initiate entry to the toilet,” Lindsay Matthews, a researcher involved in the study told Radio New Zealand.
“By the end, three quarters of the animals were doing three-quarters of their urinations in the toilet,” he said.
“The calves showed a level of performance comparable to that of children and superior to that of very young children,” the study said.
According to the researchers, capturing 80 percent of cattle urine in a model like the MooLoo could result in a 56 percent reduction in ammonia emissions.
They also claim that lowering urine levels in the animals’ living quarters will improve their hygiene and welfare.