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How Can Cattle Farms Reduce Their Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

Updated May 16, 2024
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Most new parents would be overjoyed if they could get their toilet trainee to get the hang of things in only two weeks, so imagine how surprised they would be to learn that baby cows can do just that.

With the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, researchers have been teaching calves to use a "MooLoo," a latrine that collects excrement so that it can be reused as fertilizer, thus cutting down on the release of environmentally damaging nitrous oxide. “The calves’ rate of learning is within the range seen with 2- to 4-year-old children, and faster than for many children,” said Lindsay Matthews, one of the authors of the study on toilet training for calves.

It all started as a joke in 2007, when Matthews was kidded about controlling harmful ammonia emissions by potty training cows. Afterward, Matthews started taking the idea seriously, and eventually set up a training facility with 16 Holstein calves who were rewarded with treats when they used the facilities. Now, the hope is to expand to large cattle groups and get farmers involved.

Have a cow, man:

  • Studies have shown that cattle reveal their feelings through their eyes and ear positions.

  • Cattle spend up to 40 percent of their lives chewing cud.

  • Dairy cows have been shown to produce more milk when they are given names and shown affection by people.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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