Too dumb to check: Now we're potty training cows to stop global warming

(AP Photo/Terry Chea)

Back in May, Ed Morrissey checked into a story about some early unrest among Joe Biden’s progressive supporters. They were upset over the way that Biden seemed to be totally ignoring one of the big items on their climate change agenda. You see, something has to be done about cows. They wanted Uncle Joe to send out John Kerry to tell everyone that they were going to need to stop eating beef (or at least so much of it) to put a dent in the dairy and beef farming industries. The fact that cows pass gas on a regular basis contributes to climate change, but there are other problems with them as well. One is the fact that when cows urinate on grass, the ammonia in cow urine produces nitrous oxide when released into the soil. Perhaps this unrest in the ranks was a partial inspiration to a group of researchers in Germany who have (wait for it…) potty trained cows to do their business on astroturf in a designated pen known as a “MooLoo.” And no… I’m not even kidding. (NY Post)

Some cattle have better manners than humans.

About a dozen bovines at the Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology, in Dummerstorf, Germany, have been successfully trained to potty in “MooLoos” — a designated pen, lined with AstroTurf, where cows may safely urinate without threat to the environment…

Researchers Lindsay Matthews and Douglas Elliffe spoke to Radio New Zealand Monday about their study, which involved a Pavlovian reward system — sugar water — to encourage cows to use the MooLoo.

“This is how some people train their children — they put them on the toilet, wait for them to pee, then reward them if they do it,” Matthews said.

So the cows that peed in the MooLoo pen were given a reward of sugar-water. (Ummm… doesn’t that just make them pee more?) Cows who failed to urinate in the designated pen were sprayed with a water hose for three seconds.

Stories such as this always catch my attention because I grew up in farm country and three of my uncles had beef or dairy farms. My brother and I were able to get work on the farms during the summer to pick up some extra money. Suffice it to say, I’ve spent more than my share of time around cows.

This study was conducted using sixteen cows. By the time they were finished, eleven of them were using the MooLoo roughly 75% of the time. While that’s still a fairly high failure rate, it’s not all that bad. Cows actually aren’t stupid and they are capable of quickly learning daily routines, such as where they are supposed to go each day, when milking is done, etc. So if you spent enough time, I imagine you could housebreak some of them and get them to pee where you wanted.

But the first thing I would point out is, again, this study was done on sixteen cows and it took some time. There are a bit more than 40 million cows in the United States currently, with a ratio of roughly four beef cattle for every one dairy cow. Do you know how long it would take to train that many head of cattle? And, sadly, most of them aren’t around that long before they are replaced and you’d have to train the replacements. The process would be endless.

Also, on most farms, the cows wander across large tracts of land during the day while they feed. How many of these urinals would you have to install on the average ranch to give the animals an opportunity to use the MooLoo instead of just the grass they are standing on? Are you expecting the cows to just “hold it” and wait if there’s already someone in the stall? How many more people will the ranch have to hire to go around all day and empty the urine out of the astroturf in the stalls if you could even get them to do it?

I’m sorry (not sorry) but this is just an incredibly stupid idea that was clearly cooked up by somebody who has never spent any time on a farm. Any rancher you try to sell this scheme to is probably going to laugh in your face, assuming you don’t get chased off of his land with a load of rock salt in your backside. If you’re an environmentalist with a sort of “hobby farm” with ten cows or less, I suppose you could make it work. But it’s not going to happen on one-millionth of the scale you would need to alter the entire beef and dairy industry.

I think it’s time to once again close out a segment with more of the wisdom of Tom MacDonald. “People so stupid, people so dumb. People so boo-hoo, wah-wah-wah. Get better issues, we’re gonna run out of tissues, it’s so dumb.”