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Idle Science

Can You Potty Train a Cow? 214

sciencehabit writes "Think potty training a child is hard? Try teaching a cow when and where to do its business. The bovines can defecate nine to 16 times daily, creating big hygiene problems on dairy and beef farms. So cueing the animals to go in the right place would be a big help for managing manure. But past techniques—including training cows to respond to mild electric shocks—have proven ineffective or impractical for wide use. To see if they could come up with a better potty prompt, scientists tested a series of stimuli on a dozen Holstein cows. The milkers stood in or walked through a footbath filled with water, for example, or had air or water sprayed on their feet. Alas, '[n]one of our tests reliably stimulated defecation,' the team reports."
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Can You Potty Train a Cow?

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  • by Splab ( 574204 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @06:03AM (#42908007)

    That would be slightly disgusting, but hey, if screwing with meat floats your boat....

    Personally I don't mind animals suffering for my pleasure - in fact, looking at my gadgets and my way of living, I'd go as far as apparently, I don't mind humans suffering for my pleasure. I wear clothes produced by cheap labor in India, I use computers produced by cheap labor in China, I eat meat produced under horrible conditions; however, it does make my life pretty nice.

  • by Grayhand ( 2610049 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @06:12AM (#42908029)
    Speaking of cows I need a Red Bull. Okay to answer their question before they wasted the time, no it can't be done for a simple reason. Grazing animals are hardwired to go at will. Notice how pet animals tend to be animals that have dens or burrows? Evolution has adapted them to this condition so they go in one location so they don't soil their dens. Predators have the same ability even when they don't den. Primates do it as well probably because of tree dwelling origins. Evacuating bowels requires muscles that in upright animals is used in locomotion as well as four legged animals on the move as in stalking prey. Notice horses don't go a gallop. I guess you could keep the cows on a treadmill but it would cause severe problems if they kept it up too long. I'm sure over thousands of years they could adapt but it's a waste of time. Let them roam in a field they way they were adapted to live. They'll perfect engineered meat and milk long before you could adapt a cow. I even managed in my caffeine deprived state to get it back onto a Slashdot subject, engineered meat. That's the real solution to the waste problem not teaching cows to cross their legs.
  • by Splab ( 574204 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @08:02AM (#42908551)

    So plants should suffer instead? Have you seen how they grow plants these days? Most of them don't ever get to put their roots in soil, but are grown on horrible artificial conditions!

    Where does your do good end? Is your clothes made under proper sustainable conditions? How about your computer? Your car? Furniture?

    If I had the money to live "right", I'd (probably) do it, but for me to live the way I want, someone has to suffer. Sure I could forgo the telly, the car, the flushing toilet - I could probably live on vegs for a decade or two before dying from malnutrition. (Oh did someone just say vitamin supplement? You know what suffered to make those pills? Pigs.)

    Spare me the feel good, do-gooder bullshit. You might think you are doing it right, but fact is, people, plants and animals are suffering just the same for you to live your way.

Receiving a million dollars tax free will make you feel better than being flat broke and having a stomach ache. -- Dolph Sharp, "I'm O.K., You're Not So Hot"