Researchers Successfully Potty Train Cows To Use “MooLoo,” Because Why Not

A recent experiment conducted by a team of scientists at an indoor research lab in German has shown that cattle can be potty trained in a similar way to toddlers.

And, while this may be seen by some as a bit of a waste of the boffins' time, the results may be able to help reduce greenhouse emissions on farms across the globe.

Some of the cattle were as effective as humans at learning how to use the toilet.

Unsplash | Annie Spratt

In a similar way to how some parents train their children to use the potty, the researchers used a reward-based system to encourage the sixteen cattle to urinate in a separate, special pen.

"Remarkably, the calves showed a level of performance comparable to that of children and superior to that of very young children," wrote Dr Jan Langbein from the Institute of Behavioural Physiology (FBN) in the since-published study.

Lindsay Matthews, the study senior author, also explained "The cows are at least as good as children, age 2 to 4 years, at least as quick," in an interview with Huffington Post.

It only took the cattle fifteen days to be toilet trained.

Unsplash | Marino Bobetic

By the end of the experiment, eleven of the sixteen cattle involved in the experiment had learned to urinate in the specially designated area.

However, Dr Langbein is confident that the results are promising considering the short period of time that the experiment lasted for: "After ten, fifteen, twenty years of research with cattle, we know that animals have their own personalities and deal with different things in different ways. They are not all the same."

Cattle who did not urinate in the latrine were "punished" with a quick spray of water to the face, while those that did were rewarded.

Cows urine and faeces can produce a lot of greenhouse gasses, so the study has many potential benefits.

Unsplash | Matias Tapia

"Indiscriminate voiding of excreta by cattle contributes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and soil and water contamination," explains the study. Essentially, due to the fact that urine contains nitrogen, when mixed with faeces it can produce ammonia which causes environmental issues and can even lead to the manifestation of nitrous oxide, an airborn pollutant.

So, as the study posits, "Voiding in a specific location (latrine) would help resolve this dilemma by allowing ready capture and treatment of excreta under more spacious farming conditions."

Therefore, if cows are trained to urinate in one specific area, then it means they can be given more space at no cost to the environment.

Animal cognition scientist Brian Hare, who was not involved with the study, explained to Huffington Post, "I am not surprised they can train calves to urinate in set locations, but I am surprised no one has demonstrated this before [...] The critical question is can it and will it scale?"

Hopefully, if these findings are able to be implemented effectively, it would mean better things for both humanity and cow-kind — which is a pretty incredibly outcome from people simply trying to teach some cows to use a toilet!

h/t: Huffington Post