Potty-Trained Cows Can Save the Earth From Acid Rain

CC0 / tsg1 / A cow
A cow - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.09.2021
The experiment involved cows receiving a tasty treat after they urinated inside a special pen; if the cattle urinated outside that pen after the initial training, they got a squirt of cold water instead.
A team of scientists has conducted a study to determine whether cows can be trained to urinate in a designated area, in an attempt to lessen the impact of cattle bodily waste on the environment.
Lindsay Matthews, animal behavioural scientist at New Zealand's University of Auckland and senior author of the study, explained that massive amounts of urine waste pose a serious environmental problem.

Urine contains nitrogen that becomes ammonia when mixed with faeces, which is "an environmental issue with acid rain and other problems", AP cites Matthews as saying. He added that the substance can taint the water with nitrates and create nitrous oxide, an airborne pollutant.

Matthews also mentioned that a single cow can produce about 30 litres of urine per day.
According to the media outlet, the study, which was published Monday in the Current Biology journal, began with a “half-in-jest question” on a New Zealand radio talk show about the problem of livestock waste.
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Working at a lab in Dummerstorf, Germany, the researchers sought to train the cows by placing them in a special pen, waiting until the animals urinated and then rewarding them with a treat in the form of a sweet liquid. However, if a cow urinated outside the pen after the initial training, it received a squirt of cold water instead.

Out of 16 cows, 11 learnt to use the so-called “MooLoo” when they had to urinate.

As the media outlet points out, however, researchers only trained cows to urinate, not defecate, though Matthews predicted that cows could potentially be trained to evacuate their bowels in a designated place as well.
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