We all know that cats and dogs can be trained to use the toilet. But new findings suggest that cows can also be potty trained.
Scientists from the Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology in Germany put the cows in a fenced area with fake grass as a “toilet” for 45 minutes. If they used the toilet, they were rewarded with food. If not, they’d be splashed with water.
Sixteen cows were used for the experiment, and eleven of them learned how to use the toilet by the end. They also learned to push the gate of the toilet to open it.
Researchers think the other cows could have learned to use the toilet too, if only they were given more time.
This is important, as manure from livestock produces 14% of all agricultural greenhouse emissions in the US alone. Moreover, the ammonia from the manure can create acid rain and excessive nutrients, causing issues for forests and oceans.
As 3.7 billion gallons of excrement are produced by cows globally in a single day, it’s difficult to remove them altogether. But cow potty might actually help. If cow toilets get implemented at free-movement farms, the excrement can be easily collected and treated.
The scientists are planning more training with a more automated process to show the learning abilities of cows.
For now, the findings of this study serve to change the perception of cattle. It shows that cows are intelligent animals that are not significantly different from dogs or cats. Other recent studies have also found that they can create distinct calls and even have best friends.
With the ability to be trained, socialize, and communicate, there’s definitely more to cows than what catches the eye.