A small scientific study suggests that cattle can be trained to leave their waste in special areas.
The aim of the research was to reduce the adverse effects of livestock on the environment.
In a recent study, scientists trained 11 out of 16 young cattle to use the “MooLoo” – a kind of bathroom for cattle.
The researchers used a candy to treat grow cows through a door and urinate in the special zone. It only took 15 days to train the young cattle.
“The cows are at least as good as children 2-4 years old, at least as fast,” said Lindsay Matthews of the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
Matthews was the lead author of the recent study in Current Biology. He worked with other researchers on testing at an indoor animal research laboratory in Germany.
Urine contains nitrogen. When mixed with solid waste, it becomes ammonia. The chemical may play a role in environmental problems such as acid rain, Matthews said. It can also pollute water with nitrates and create polluting nitrous oxide, he said.
Cattle urinate a lot. A single cow can produce about 30 liters of urine per day, Matthews said. In 2019, nitrous oxide accounted for 7% of all greenhouse gases in the United States, reports the Environmental Protection Agency.
Duke University scientist Brian Hare was not part of the research, but said he was not surprised by the results.
“I’m surprised no one has demonstrated this before,” Hare said. “The critical the question is can and will it evolve? ”
Scale means doing something more often or in greater amounts.
If that could be done, animal training would make waste management easier and reduce greenhouse gases, said Donald Broom. He is Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Cambridge in England.
At the laboratory in Dummerstorf, Germany, researchers placed the cattle in the special zone, waited for them to urinate, and then gave them a treat: a sugary liquid made mostly of molasses. Cows love candy, Matthews says. If the cows urinated outside the MooLoo after training, they were given an injection of cold water.
Two questions raise questions about the study.
The researchers gave the cattle medicine to make them urinate more because they had little time. And the researchers only trained the cows to use the MooLoo to urinate, leaving no solid waste behind.
Urine is a bigger problem, at least in Europe, Matthews said. But he predicted that the researchers could also train the cows to leave solid waste.
The biggest environmental problem for livestock, however, is heat-trapping methane gas. Cows release the gas that scientists say causes global warming.
Cows cannot be trained not to release such gas, Matthews said: “They would explode.”
I am John Russell.
Seth Borenstein reported this story to The Associated Press. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
Words in this story
to treat -not. something that tastes good and is not eaten often
urinate – v. (medical) to send urine (liquid waste) out of the body
critical – adj. Extremely important