Turns out cows can be potty trained as easily as toddlers. Maybe easier.
It is no bull. Scientists put the task to the test and 11 out of 16 cows learned to use the “MooLoo” when they had to go.
Just like some parents, the researchers used a sweet treat to coax the cows to push through a gate and urinate in a special pen, and it took only 15 days to train the young calves.
Photo: AFP / RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR FARM ANIMAL BIOLOGY
Some children take longer.
“The cows are at least as good as children, age 2 to 4 years, at least as quick,” said study senior author Lindsay Matthews, an animal behavioral scientist at New Zealand’s University of Auckland who worked with colleagues on the tests at an indoor animal research laboratory in Germany.
What started with a half-in-jest question on a New Zealand radio talk show about the very real problem of livestock waste resulted in a serious study published on Monday in the journal Current Biology.
It was not just a “wow, this could be fun” academic question. Massive amounts of urine waste is a serious environmental issue, Matthews said.
Urine contains nitrogen, which when mixed with feces becomes ammonia, which is an environmental issue due to acid rain and other problems, Matthews said.
It can also taint the water with nitrates and create the airborne pollutant nitrous oxide, he said.
And cows do pee a lot. A single cow can produce about 30 liters of urine a day, Matthews said.
“I am not surprised they can train calves to urinate in set locations, but I am surprised no one has demonstrated this before,” said Duke University animal cognition scientist Brian Hare, who was not part of the research. “The critical question is can it and will it scale?”
At the laboratory in Dummerstorf, Germany, the researchers mimicked a toddler’s training, putting the cows in the special pen, waiting until they urinated and then giving them a reward — a sweet liquid of mostly molasses.
Cows do have a sweet tooth, Matthews said.
If the cows urinated outside the MooLoo after the initial training, they got a squirt of cold water.
Then in two sets of experiments, the researchers let the Holstein cows roam about the indoor facility. When they had to urinate, 11 of them pushed into the pen, did their business, and got their sweet reward.
However, there were a couple of caveats to the experiment.
No. 1, they gave diuretics to the cattle to get them to urinate more because they had limited time to run the experiments under ethics guidelines.
And No. 2, they did not do No. 2. They only trained cows to use the MooLoo to urinate, not defecate.
Urine is a bigger problem, at least in Europe, Matthews said, but he predicted that they could train cows to poop in a certain place, too.
The biggest environmental problem for livestock, though, is the heat-trapping methane they emit in belches and flatulence, a significant source of global warming.
The cows cannot be trained not to belch or fart, Matthews said.
“They would blow up,” he said.
With YouTube videos “debunking” allegations of human rights abuses and diatribes on Western “conspiracies” against China, an unlikely set of foreigners is loudly defending Beijing against international critics. They are teachers and business owners from the UK, Colombia and Singapore, a collage of YouTubers garnering fame for their video takedowns of what they say are unfair accusations against Beijing. Videos alternate between praise of China’s rapid development and rebuttals of negative foreign reports about the country. Experts say they are being deployed as a weapon in the information war against China’s critics, with hundreds of videos reaching millions of viewers. “I am trying to
Hospitals are overwhelmed, ventilators are difficult to find and there is no longer enough space at the main cemetery for COVID-19 victims in Mauritius. Barely three weeks before it fully opens its doors to international travelers at the start of the peak tourist season, the island nation is struggling with an alarming explosion in COVID-19 infections and deaths. In just two months, cases have jumped more than fivefold to more than 12,600 as of Friday, by far the largest increase across Africa during this period, data compiled by Agence France-Presse showed. Since the pandemic started, Mauritius has recorded 1,005 cases of COVID-19 per
ELEVATED PARTNERSHIP: The agreement enables Japan to share its equipment and technology, as the countries deepen defense ties amid China worries Japan is to give defense equipment and technology to Vietnam under an agreement signed on Saturday, as the two countries step up their military cooperation amid worries about China’s growing military influence. Japanese Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi said the deal elevates the countries’ defense partnership “to a new level,” and that Japan and Vietnam plan to deepen defense ties through multinational joint exercises and other means. Details about the transfer of specific equipment, including naval vessels, is to be worked out in subsequent talks, the ministry said. Kishi’s meeting with Vietnamese Minister of Defense Phan Van Giang in Hanoi
A city in southern China that is trying to contain a COVID-19 outbreak told the public on Sunday not to leave, suspended bus and train services, and closed cinemas, bars and other facilities. Anyone needing to leave Putian, a city of 2.9 million people in China’s Fujian Province, for an essential trip must have proof of a negative coronavirus test within the past 48 hours, the city government said. China declared the virus under control early last year, but has suffered outbreaks of the more contagious Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. Authorities say that most cases have been traced to travelers arriving from