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This article is more than 4 month old.

Scientists are potty-training calves in an attempt to save the planet

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The scientists have tried a method they call the "MooLoo approach" to teach calves how to use a toilet area in their barn. Waste from farms contaminates the waterways and soil and contributes to the acidification of the soil. It also increases greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientists are potty-training calves in an attempt to save the planet
Scientists in Germany are trying to potty-train cows in an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by creating environmentally friendly farms. They are trying a method they call the "MooLoo approach" to teach calves how to use a toilet area in their barns.
Waste from farms contaminates the waterways and soil and contributes to the acidification of the soil. It also increases greenhouse gas emissions that are unhealthy for the environment. For this reason, the calves are trained through a system of rewards and mild punishments.
When they urinate in the assigned toilet area, they are offered a sweet drink or some mashed barley. And when they do the opposite, they are surprised by a short blast of water from above.
"Once they were allowed outside, the calves would go in the toilet to get their reward, but they soon learned that there's only a reward if they urinate," FBN's Neele Dirksen, first author of the study, told CNN.
They also used in-ear headphones and played a “very nasty sound” whenever they urinated outside, said Langbein.
According to the study published in the journal Current Biology, within a few weeks and after almost 15 training sessions, 11 out of 16 calves were toilet trained. The rest needed more time, researchers said.


The team is now working to create an automated system that can be used to train the calves with almost zero intervention from the farmers. They want to develop a kind of sensor technology for all the cows, the Guardian reported.
How does farm waste contribute to greenhouse gas emissions?
Agriculture contributes the largest amount of global ammonia emissions, and livestock farming makes up more than half of that contribution. Livestock adds to greenhouse gas emissions every day through their waste.
While the ammonia produced from waste doesn't directly contribute to the climate crisis, when mixed with soil it turns into nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is the third-largest greenhouse gas after methane and carbon dioxide. It also contaminates the soil and local waterways.
The study suggests that if 80 percent of the cattle urine was collected, these ammonia emissions would be cut down by more than 56 percent. This reduction will further contribute to the cleanliness, hygiene, and welfare of the livestock and will also reduce environmental pollution.


 
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