Scientists are potty-training cows to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions
3 min read
Don't have a cow, man. Cattle can learn to use a latrine, and it's for a good cause.
Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

Kittens can be trained to use litter boxes, and puppies learn to do their business outside (some better than others). So maybe we shouldn't be surprised that calves, too, can be potty-trained. And that's no bull.

"It's usually assumed that cattle are not capable of controlling defecation or urination," says animal psychologist Jan Langbein, co-author of a study published Monday in the journal Current Biology. "Cattle, like many other animals or farm animals are quite clever and they can learn a lot. Why shouldn't they be able to learn how to use a toilet?"

It sounds crazy to teach cattle where to pee -- imagine a black and white Holstein sitting on a potty chair -- but there's a good reason to do it, and it's not just to keep your pasture pristine. Cow urine is high in nitrogen, and breaks down into nitrate and nitrous oxide. Nitrate…
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
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