Teaching cows to use the toilet is not the easiest task, but a Dutch inventor is banking on a new bovine urinal to help cut emissions that cause environmental damage.
The cow toilets are currently being tested on a farm in Doetinchem and seven of its 58 cows have already learned how to use them without the need for stimulation. The urinal is in a box placed behind the cow, while in front is a feeding trough. Once the animal finishes eating a robot arm stimulates a nerve near the udders, which then makes it want to urinate.
“The cows have got used to it,” Henk Hanskamp, the Dutch inventor and businessman behind the “Cow Toilet”, said.. “They recognise the box, lift their tail, and pee.”
The device collects some of the 15 to 20 litres of urine that the average cow produces a day.
That produces huge amounts of ammonia in a country like the Netherlands, which is the world’s second biggest agricultural exporter after the U.S. “We are tackling the problem at the source,” Mr. Hanskamp said. Bovine urine is kept aside from solid manure to reduce the release of ammonia. The company aims to have the devices on the market by 2020.
“The stables have become cleaner and the ground is drier. Less damp ground is better for the health of the cows’ hooves,” Jan Velema, a vet who took part in the tests, was quoted as saying by De Volkskrant newspaper.
The Netherlands is already introducing stricter rules on emissions of ammonia, which can cause atmospheric pollution and irritate the eyes in humans.