Moo Loo set for 2020 launch

By: Chris McCullough

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The CowToilet is designed to help reduce ammonia emissions and maybe raise cash

The CowToilet targets a urinary reflex in cows.
The CowToilet targets a urinary reflex in cows

An automatic cow urinal will help dairy farmers meet tightening emissions regulations when they come into production in mid-2020, Dutch product developers Hanskamp says.

When cow manure and urine mix, ammonia is formed. If this is released into the air, it can precipitate, causing large amounts of nitrogen.

According to research from Wageningen University and Research (WUR) in The Netherlands, about 90 per cent of ammonia emissions come from agriculture.

And this is a big deal – The Netherlands has national limits in force to reduce gases, and dairy farmers have to pay high fees to meet ammonia emission and manure disposal requirements.

Hanskamp’s CowToilet is designed to target a well-known nerve reflex just above the udder in cows, which when stimulated causes them to urinate.

The CowToilet is placed against the cow's suspensory ligament and moves in unison with the cow. The technique locates the nerve, and once located, the nerve, which triggers the urinary reflex, is stimulated and the cow starts urinating.

The urine is collected in the CowToilet container and extracted through a suction line into a separate storage tank.

Cows go to and use the CowToilet voluntarily because each visit to the toilet is combined with the animals receiving their daily portion of feed.

As most of the urine is collected this results in a significant reduction in ammonia emissions, which is good for both the environment and animal welfare, as well as providing a healthier climate in the shed, says Hanskamp.

The CowToilet also offers economic advantages as it saves on manure storage costs and may even be an alternative to ammonia emission-reducing floors, Hanskamp says.

As a welcome sideline, using the CowToilet may even provide some income as pure urine can be used as a high quality raw material in, for example, precision fertilisation.

There are also ongoing developments in which urine is used to generate 'yellow' power or as a source of hydrogen. 

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