Potty training cows could be one way to help save the environment.
According to a study published Monday by the Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN) in Germany, scientists have taught cows to urinate in a designated area, dubbed a "MooLoo."
The study revealed that, over the course of 15 training sessions, researchers were able to direct cows into the barn's "MooLoo" to urinate. Scientists rewarded the cows with a treat when they successfully used the "MooLoo" and learned to control their urinary reflexes.
"Within one or two urinations, most of the animals were walking down the alleyway, pushing open the door and going into the toilet," said Lindsay Matthews, a New Zealand-based animal behavioral expert and the lead author of the study, The Washington Post reports.
According to researchers, 11 of the 16 calves were successfully trained within a few weeks, comparing the performance level to that of young children.
"Normally, it is assumed that cattle are not able to control their defecation or urination," Dr. Jan Langbein, an FBN scientist, said in a release. "Cattle, like many other animals or farm animals, are quite intelligent and capable of learning. Why shouldn't they also be able to learn how to use a toilet?"
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Cow urine contains high amounts of nitrate, which can contaminate waterways or create airborne nitrous oxide once it enters the soil if not appropriately managed. By toilet training cows — who urinate frequently — researchers believe greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced significantly, according to the study.
Now, outdoor farms are starting to adopt the methods used in the research in hopes of improving cleanliness and reducing environmental harm with the same technique.