New Zealand’s dairy industry: testing the cow toilet

As of: 6/6/2022 3:12 p.m

New Zealand is the world’s top exporter of milk and dairy products. Keeping cows on pastures all year round also creates major environmental problems. One solution: a cow toilet.

New Zealand is the dairy of the world. The country is not the largest producer, but it is the largest exporter of milk, butter and cheese. The South Pacific state’s 6.5 million cows produce more than 22 million tons of milk every year. This means that cattle have long been economically more important than sheep.

Cow urine as a hazard to groundwater

The mild climate in New Zealand allows the herds to graze all year round. This saves stable and feed costs. However, it is also an immense burden on the environment.

More than 20 million liters of cow urine seep into the ground every day, pollute the groundwater and run into rivers and lakes. They form nitrate and nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is 300 times more harmful than the CO2 most cited in connection with climate change.

“Moo-Loo” as a possible solution

With this in mind, it is no wonder that the New Zealand media recently raved about a biologist who, for the first time, succeeded in training cows to use the cow toilet he had developed.

This cow toilet – called “Moo-Loo” – has been tested in a research project at the German Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology (FBN) in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The researchers tried to teach a total of 16 cows to go to a special barn area to urinate.

Food reward

The animals were led in there and rewarded with food for urinating. The scientists then took the cows to an adjacent part of the pen and rewarded them when they visited the “Moo-Loo”. Cows that urinated outside the toilet were punished with water sprayed for three seconds. At the end of the training, the distances to the “Moo-Loo” were increased.

According to behavioral biologist Lindsay Matthews, after the training sessions, 11 of the animals had adjusted to the cow toilet. “In the end, three quarters of the animals did three quarters of the urination in the toilet,” the University of Auckland scientist, who was also a fellow at the University of Munster, told Radio New Zealand.

Matthews now wants to export his idea to other countries. According to the biologist, if you could get the cows all over the world practically in meadows, then that would be billions, even trillions, of liters of urine that would no longer seep into the ground.

With information from Holger Senzel, ARD Studio Singapore.

Dairy farming New Zealand

Holger Senzel ARD Singapore, June 1, 2022 10:45 a.m

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