Scientists Outline New Method for 'Potty Training' Cows

In a study published in the journal Current Biology, scientists outlined a new method for ‘potty training’ cows called the MooLoo. It involved giving the cows a sweet drink or barley when they urinated in specific areas of their barn and gently punishing them with a splash of water when they went elsewhere. After 15 training sessions over the course of a few weeks, 11 of 16 calves were reportedly trained.

Toilet-training cows would allow for the collection and treatment of their waste, which has major impacts on the environment through the acidification of soil and greenhouse gas emissions. Cow urine contains ammonia, which is converted to nitrous oxide (a significant greenhouse gas) by microbes in the soil. According to the Guardian, the researchers’ initial estimates say that if 80% of cow pee is collected from a barn, the ammonia emissions would be more than halved.

Researchers believe that the 5 calves who weren’t trained just need a little more time and are hoping to create an automated system to train the cattle without the need for a farmer.