Believe It or Not! Scientists Actually Potty Trained Cows

by Matthew Memrick

Random cow urine is a problem in Europe, and a New Zealand study released this week has figured how to solve that with potty training.

In what started as a half-joking question on a radio talk show, a group of scientists published a study on livestock waste according to the journal Current Biology. 

Scientists created a “MooLoo” potty to get cows to go into places where they could pee instead of all over the place.

The Associated Press found out the essential parts of the study. The bovines, like toddlers, can be potty trained.

When tested, 11 out of 16 cows used the “MooLoo.” The scientists used a sweet treat to coax a cow to go through a gate and pee in a special pen. The training only lasted 15 days, while toddlers take way much 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.

Matthews worked with colleagues on the tests at an indoor animal research lab in Germany.

Pee A Big Environmental Issue

Matthews worked with the group and noticed that cows pee quite a bit. The scientist said calves can pee up to 8 gallons a day. 

Yeah, you can laugh all you want about bovine farts and methane, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, one cow pee pollutant makes up 7 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gasses.

When that nitrogen-based pee mixes with ammonia-based poop, there can be big problems. Rainwater can become acidic, or water can mix with nitrates to create nitrous oxide, a chemical combination that can produce airborne pollution.

Is it surprising that cows can be potty-trained? Duke University scientist Brian Hare said no. But to him, the question remains can it stick for all cows and become more than a fad with worldwide farms.

According to some scientists, toilet trained animals could make waste management easier and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Training What You Think

The quick German experiment was similar to toddler training. Put cows in a special pen, let them pee, and then get a molasses-liquid reward.

Because cows like sweets.

On the other hand, if the cows urinated outside the “MooLoo,” they get a squirt of water.

In two other experiment sets, the animals roamed an indoor facility. Eleven cows pushed into a pen, peed, and got a reward.

While dogs, cats, and horses can poop in a particular place, the study deduced that cows could do the same.

But he predicted they could train the animal to poop in a specific place too.

While dogs, cats, and horses can be toilet trained, they already show the desire to go in particular spots, but cows don’t, Matthews said.

In the United States, methane produced is still a big problem. The study, however, couldn’t solve that problem. 

The cows can’t be trained not to belch or fart, Matthews said: “They would blow up.”