Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
CowToilet, a Toilet for Cows (hanskamp.nl)
402 points by Someone 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 197 comments



Not sure how this makes a lot of sense commercially. By way of background I work remotely from my family's small cattle farm (we have 225ish head of grass-only fed cattle).

In simple terms, cow piss has a bunch of nitrogen in it which makes the grass grow faster (especially when you have a well developed soil biome).

I watched the video and appreciate that quality engineering went into this product, I just don't get why it would make sense for any farmer who has cows in pasture to invest in this technology, even if it were available at mass-produced-in-Asia prices. More specifically, it's hard to imagine a use case for cow piss that makes it valuable enough that I'm going to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on machinery to harvest it, at an opportunity cost of less nitrogen going into my fields.

Maybe it makes more sense for feedlots? They get a bunch of nasty health issues going on with their animals living in mucky high-density conditions, so reducing the ammonia in the muck might lower the amount of sores their animals have, or something like that. But taking a step back, I guess I don't get the general wisdom of inventing technology that makes bad practices marginally better on the animals and/or environment.


In the "Death of the Family Dairy Farm" article that was on HN the other day, the clear trend was toward CAFO's (Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations) - aka giant farms.

Along with these, there are really clear environmental impacts as the density of the herd/land is just overwhelming to the point where it's not "cows fertilizing the field" but being legally required to create massive manure lagoons, etc.

What's clever about the cow toilet is that it opens up new options for treatment of both manure and urine.

This is the article from the other day, find "manure lagoon" in it to see all the problems

https://blog.abevoelker.com/2019-03-06/on-the-death-of-my-fa...


There are places where animal manure is being used for the biogas production. The scale of the cesspool in the link is way above any small farm biogas tank, but then there must be better ways to speed up the biological decomposition of the manure. Mixing it with plant material, increasing surface and pumping air i.e.


Fascinating 2002 article that goes into a great deal of detail about CAFOs:

https://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/power-steer/


Yeah people need to let go of the idea of cute happy cows living free in grass planes. The drawing on your milk carton is far from the reality of these animals.


Small farms like your aren't commercially viable for much longer (they already aren't in Europe, I'm not very familiar with the US situation, but I have no reason to believe it's different in the medium term). The constraining factor on milk production in Europe isn't land or capital or stock, it's 'nitrate rights', essentially the amount of nitrates you can put into the soil (top soil is already nitrate saturated so any additional leaches into the ground water). Any measure that reduces the amount of nitrates are a net productivity gain.

I did nitrate leaching/ground water hydrology modeling for New Zealand some 10 years ago, and even then there too dairying was starting to become constrained by its nitrate leaching effects (of course, there needs to be the political will to enforce the boundaries when safe cumulative groundwater nitrate levels are reached at downstream points, but that's a different matter). My point is, it's not just Europe.

As to your other comments in this thread about using other breeds, sure that's fine for small biological/organic farms, but not for large scale commercial operations. Milk production is just too low, and any energy the cow has to put into keeping warm doesn't go into producing milk. On top of that, modern breeds (the only ones that can keep up, production wise) are too weak to be outside this much. Of course there are ethical concerns with this, similar to people breeding dogs for example, but that's a concern at a different abstraction level than that of the individual farmer.


>Small farms like your aren't commercially viable for much longer

I think we’re probably just a decade or so away from having lab grown or “impossible burger” style fake meats able to compete with factory farming on price. They won’t be good enough to replace actual butcher shop meat, but they’ll definitely be able to replace generic taco meat type stuff. When there is a viable alternative we might see animal welfare laws gain more traction.

Perhaps actual meat will increasingly become a luxury product for special occasions, improving margins and encouraging producers to compete on quality (and ethics) instead of racing to the bottom on price.

I’m less sure how that will apply to milk and dairy though.


I live in a place where people think about things like food security. It's an island, where most people are on the next, larger island, which itself gets supplies from the mainland.

If you have the room, and time, there's a certain comfort in having your own goats from which you can get milk (and cheeeeeeese), and if you're so inclined, meat.

There are strong legal constraints against any form of commercial dairy that aren't integrated into the quota system, with crazy high fines. It's not even a food safety thing (e.g. pasteurization), but it means that quite a few people retain the means of production for at least personal use.


"I think we’re probably just a decade or so away from having lab grown or “impossible burger” style fake meats able to compete with factory farming on price."

I hope so.

"I’m less sure how that will apply to milk and dairy though."

I hope someone, at some point, will be able to take an udder, hook it up to an artificial source of nutrients, and have the milk robot come by once a day without any further living creatures being involved. Pure science fiction right now, and if we can hook an udder up to an artificial nutrient source then why wouldn't we be able to do the same to a human brain at which point the whole need for dairy would be moot, but hey...


Meat is highly subsidised. If it wasn't cheap lab meat would be here in 2 or 3 years. It's crazy to think that I have to pay for meat, whether I eat it or not.


Farming in the Netherlands works under different constraints. Farmers don’t have cows in pasture, they often have long concluded that it is more efficient to mechanically inject manure into their land, mechanically mow the resulting grass and feed it to their cows. Grass production increases that way, and it makes it less labor intensive to move the cows from and to milking stations twice a day.

Also, once you have enough nitrogen in your land, cow piss doesn't make the grass grow faster, it seeps into the surface water, kills fish, and makes algae grow faster. The Netherlands mostly is way into that “once you have enough nitrogen” zone.


I stayed for a week on a dairy farm in the Netherlands (Fluitenberg, outside Hoogeveen) last year and it was completely unlike your description. The 100ish cows lived on a grass pasture and came in only for milking.

It was operated very similarly to a dairy farm in Ireland 20 years ago, which is all I'm familiar with.


Hello. I thought about what you wrote for a bit as I’m walking by some fields in the Netherlands.

Animal well being is of great importance to the Dutch middle class. Dairy consumption is high, and a high amount of the dairy sold, particularly milk, is advertised with animal well being. Just the milk cartons alone would tell you that cows do go to pasture a lot. That said it would be torture to have the cows stand outside the whole year. You can hardly get more domesticated than a Dutch cow. A golden retriever is more wild.

A lot of farm land, as a result, gets injected with fertiliser. In the summer the grass gets dried and stored to last through the winter.

I am assuming this is correct. I base this on what I see right in front of me.


Sure, but what % of cows live on such farms? I'm guessing maybe ~10% at most.


There's big differences per farm. According to the CBS about 75% of farms let their cows graze outside. The dairy industry has published an intention to get this number up to 80% of cows being outside on the field for at least 6 hours. I haven't been on a farm in 20 years, I have no idea if farmers rotate so they can have 200 cows on a 100 cow field each day. I imagine they wouldn't bother with making cows graze at night.


They are legally required to inject the manure rather than just spray it to prevent it all being washed off into surface water. It has its own problems, of course.

There is just far too much cow manure produced here.


At least in the Netherlands (where the inventor is from), all cows pass the winter in confinements. Some stay there all year round. In this situation urine separation is very advantageous.


I don't disagree that this is the case, the point I was trying to make is that keeping animals like this is not optimal.


It's necessary (or at least standard practice) in a lot of dairy farming regions. Consuming lots of dairy is typically a high-latitude thing.

You could only have dairy farms in places that don't have a winter, but that would be pushing things even further toward the whole "put all the cattle in Californian factory farms and then burn lots and lots of oil to ship it around in trucks" thing, which is arguably even less optimal.


Or we could just resurrect older breeds descended from Aurochs that had shaggy coats. Or we could encourage the consumption of traditional dairy products in those regions like reindeer or yak-based dairies.

Factory farming in NL versus California is probably pretty similar. California's not really a great place for ranching in the first place though, better to just do that in a place like Vermont with a lot more water.


I suspect that even if you could leave your herd out in the snow all winter, a detailed analysis would determine that bringing them into the barn to keep them warmer and feeding them hay for the winter yields more milk per acre. That would, in turn, imply things like a lower carbon footprint and less damage to already stressed ecosystems.

It's kind of like burning wood to heat your house: It may be traditional, but that doesn't necessarily make it better. Realistically, the only reason all sorts of traditional practices were sustainable way back when was that the human population used to be a fraction of what it is now.


Appeal to nature doesn’t imply that it’s the optimal thing to do.


> Appeal to nature doesn’t imply that it’s the optimal thing to do.

It doesn't, but it's not meaningless either. It can be a useful heuristic, for example when trying to judge what conditions are better for the animals involved. Nature sucks in various ways, but 'unnatural' conditions that the animal is not adapted to living in often do cause more mental and physical distress.


My great grandma used to have cows on her we-do-everything farm. I’m told they prefered staying in the barn when it was -10celsius and covered in half a meter of snow outside. The barn was nice and warm.

They’d also come home from pastures at night. That’s where the tastier nutrient dense food was.


Here in the Netherlands, cows only go into the fields half of the year, simply because during winter time it is too cold for them to be outside with no protection against wind and rain.


FWIW, for a climate like the Netherlands most breeds of cow would be just fine living outside in the winter.


It might no longer be true for the cows that have been breed for producing lots of milk. I guess most of them might still be able to survive outside during the winter, but I suspect that their milk production will be strongly affected.


It depends on the breed for sure, but as a rule of thumb when you're talking about the 40-55 latitude band, they're more comfortable/gain weight easier in the winter when it's cold outside than in the summer when it's hot outside.


California has a response to that... https://youtu.be/tItIRScGMuc


The cow piss ends up not just re-fertilising but also as run off in streams, rivers, and ground water. This is worse as there is more intensification. So in a well working society farmers would either do something like this or get regulated out of business. Methane emissions are the bigger problem.


>> Not sure how this makes a lot of sense commercially.

Some farms have to pay to dispose of manure. Removing any urine from the equation may decrease those costs. Farms are also about creating as many products as possible. There may actually be a market for urine. There certainly was historically.


> Some farms have to pay to dispose of manure.

Pig farms for sure. Cow farms, if they're removing it, they're probably composting and selling it, or selling it to someone who will compost it.


How’s is working remotely from a farm?


Pretty good! I think we're at an inflection point where working from home is really actually feasible for most white collar jobs and a lot more people will start doing it over the next few years. I'm biased, of course.


That's interesting. I've been working remotely from the farm (dairy when I started; switched to cash cropping later) for nearly 20 years now and I'm not sure I have seen much societal change with respect to remote work in that time. What are you noticing that suggests that a lot more are going to make the change soon?


Just the fact that it's normal now to join meetings via dial-in or Skype, and virtually all document generation in white-shoe services firms (law/banking/consulting/etc) is an email- and shared folder-based process.

I can think of several examples each of engineering leads, professional investors, very senior investment bankers, and biglaw partners with whom I've worked in the last 2-3 years who work remotely from a place too far to commute daily to NY/SV/etc. I don't have a holistic view of how new this is across industries, but it definitely feels different from how it used to be when I was an investment banking associate in NYC a decade ago.


My wife actually works in the dairy industry, and half her team of sales and HR are remote. Not remote as in working a sales territory but remote as in I’m not coming into the office more than six times a year.

I do agree that companies that can accommodate remote workers soon all will, in varying degrees based upon job and client/customer requirements.


Eating less meat and dairy also helps solve the ammonia problem.

Plant-rich diets have been identified as a top solution to climate change.

https://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank

Harvard research found switching away from dairy products to be a necessary contribution to meeting climate change goals:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14693062.2018.1...


Or no meat at all! I can't say how much wrong it is to rape cows, steal their kids and after many births kill it. And now someone wants to take them the pleasure to pee whenever they want? WTF is wrong with this guys? Diary farms are a very bad place already...


Killing this cows is probably the best thing farmer's do to them, considering the helish life they live.


If the urine goes on the field, then the farmer gets to dispose of it for free.

If the urine gets collected in tanks, suddenly it's hazardous liquid waste and very expensive to dispose of. The farmer couldn't just dump it in a river!

Unless a commercial use for cow urine can be found, or laws changed, I can't imagine this product going anywhere.


The idea that technology will allow us to keep cows happy and healthy in cramped prison-like conditions seems like incredible hubris.

It seems like a much better solution to this 'problem' is let cows live outdoors and graze on grass.

FDA should mandate that all cows raised in confinement conditions get labeled as "prison beef'.


>It seems like a much better solution to this 'problem' is let cows live outdoors and graze on grass.

With the number of cattle on this planet, this would require an insane amount of land.

>FDA should mandate that all cows raised in confinement conditions get labeled as "prison beef'.

I'm sure people would consume less if the simply put slaughter pictures on each piece of meat they buy. Rather than outsource the killing to a third party, which keeps people emotionally detached from the killing of billions of animals every year.


> this would require an insane amount of land

Which would constrain consumption, and cause prices to rise. Eventually we might end up at a sustainable amount. If that means most of us can't afford nearly as much, then that is probably great for our future and the planet.

> if the simply put slaughter pictures on each piece of meat they buy

Hmm. Sounds reasonable, except pictures alone didn't do that much to smoking rates. Pricing and eliminating marketing did.


Except smoking is actively harmful to your body. Meat is much more controversial. Actually, it's not a controversy at all to many practitioners and doctors promoting a low carb lifestyle. There is a lot of scientific evidence to support eating meat of all kinds being incredibly healthy!

So comparing eating meat to smoking seems pretty ridiculous.

Also if you look at government reports on greenhouse gas emissions animal agriculture only accounts for < 3% of U.S. emissions. It's a factor for sure, but not worth our primary focus imho.



Except I am only comparing the effect dramatic pictures had on sales. (Not that much). I'm not equating the two in terms of health or legislation that should be brought forth. Implying I am seems pretty ridiculous. :p

Rising meat prices, for whatever reason, would tend to reduce consumption.


It depends on the type of marketing those pictures were. Pictures used in anti-smoking campaigns were of the humans consuming them and the related health issues that ensued. They weren't of manufacturing cigarettes.

If you showed a bunch of in shape healthy people on low carb diets I'm not sure that would cause meat sales to decline.

If you mean slaughter, well maybe it would have an effect on sales, maybe it wouldn't. But it's not comparable to the anti-smoking ads.


Low carb is... maybe possible without meat, but it's very challenging. I'm actually in the middle of trying to figure out how to make it work myself.


>Even though smoking is in the same category as processed meat (Group 1 carcinogen), the magnitude or level of risk associated with smoking is considerably higher (e.g., for lung cancer about 20 fold or 2000% increased risk) from those associated with processed meat – an analysis of data from 10 studies, cited in the IARC report showed an 18 percent increased risk in colorectal cancer per 50g processed meat increase per day. To put this in perspective, according to the Global Disease Burden Project 2012, over 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide are attributable to high processed meat intake vs. 1 million deaths per year attributable to tobacco smoke.[1][2]

It's not as cut and try and you may think.

[1]https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/11/03/repo... [2]https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2...


Off-topic but I believe you meant "cut and dried" (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cut-and-dried).


Hah, yes! It seems my brain stopped working today.


Not to disparage the environmental argument, but for a movement in which a majority of its members also lean socialist I see a lot of arguments that in practice boil down to "Only the 1% should be able to enjoy meat/own personal transport/fly on vacation/etc."

I mean, I don't care if you aim for either "Luxury for all" or "Luxury isn't sustainable" but at least be consistent.


Where's the inconsistency? Presumably the socialist environmentalists you refer to want both reduced consumption of products that harm the environment and a massive decrease in inequality. So they don't want 'only the 1%' to be able to afford those things; they want everyone to be able to afford to use them very sparingly.


Well the only alternative route to reducing consumption, if you don't want it via pricing is legislation bringing forth rationing, or outlawing marketing. I'd imagine both those would be more difficult.

It pretty clearly isn't sustainable. So what would you do?


We can start by eliminating agricultural subsidies and import tariffs, so that market pricing can work to allocate resources to their best use.


I'm of the opinion that trying to politically solve any humanitarian issue while the socialeconomic situation is still a clusterfuck would only result in yellow vests burning down your capital while a Trump expy gets elected. Better start investing into sea walls and squirreling away endangered species DNA because it's going be years before we untangle this clusterfuck enough to start slowing the train down


> I'm sure people would consume less if the simply put slaughter pictures on each piece of meat they buy.

To be honest the slaughtering didn't put me off as much as learning under which conditions those animals have to spend their lives. They should put pictures of that on the meat products, or show Dominion in schools.


> I'm sure people would consume less

Most probably such blatant attempt on "psychological manipulation for toddlers" would backfire loudly. Adult omnivorous people know yet how a skinned cow corpse looks, keep enjoying meat, and couldn't care less. Other people would slowly desensitize by the continuous exposure and could even increase the consumption.


It's not about how the animals look when they are dead. It's about what they have to endure while they are alive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQRAfJyEsko


I'm sure people would consume less if the simply put slaughter pictures on each piece of meat they buy.

Certainly if the picture of the cow itself were on the package, and a randomly-generated name printed below the photo.


Kill two birds with one stone: Put picture and names of missing children on packages of meat, and some people might think they were buying human flesh.


> "prison beef"

It's funny the dissonance of having the video cut between shots of the entrepreneur pitching the product while walking through an open green field, and shots of the cows in standing-room-only stalls.


You have never been on a farm, have you? Like people, the cows go outside and back into the stalls.


That depends very much on the cow. Plenty of animals never see the light of day until their trip to the slaughterhouse.


The cows in this movie, Dutch dairy cows, get out each day except in winter.


When I visited a friends dairy farm in New Zealand that was not my experience. In conventional farming the cows do live outdoors and are free to graze in large paddocks. Twice a day though the cows are full of milk and will be in pain if not milked. The cows are milked in the dairy twice a day and this is where this innovation applies. When out and about they go wherever, when in the dairy though the urine mixing with the poo seems to be an environmental problem.

A conventional dairy farm does not confine the animals it just collects their milk each day and the cows know the routine.


Ah but this is the seeing point of New Zealand: they have a low population of people, and a lot of open grazing land. Heck there are more sheep than people there! That is a no go in the US.


You raise an important point alot of our food issues come from abstraction and seeing the products not as having coming from a living thing but rather as a commodity.

We loose track of the implementation details of how the food is sourced.


I understand there are good reasons to put happy cows in confined spaces for limited periods of time. If this was just a collection apparatus, I wouldn't be so horrified. But electric stimulation of the nerve to induce urination seems messed up.


Is it electric stimulation? From the video it seems touch is sufficient.


It seems like a much better solution to this 'problem' is let cows live outdoors and graze on grass.

People raise cattle in Alaska.


A much better solution is to introduce products to the market that make cows an unnecessary part of the process, such as lab grown meats and meat substitutes.


If the cows just graze on a field, their population density is so low that their urine isn't much of a problem. But when a number of tightly packed cows much higher than what the surrounding fields could ever support is converting huge amounts of imported fodder into their various outputs, then yes, everything but the milk quickly reaches environmental hazard concentrations. They tele-graze, but they don't tele-defecate. It's a real problem and it does not come as a surprise that the partial solution is from the Dutch who are taking high density agriculture to extremes like few others.


Well after reading the article I found that it discussed the economical advantages this system could bring. " To limit ammonia emissions from the agricultural sector, dairy farmers have to pay high fees to meet ammonia emission and manure disposal requirements. Therefore, ammonia reduction is a high priority for many dairy farmers.


If there is a clear benefit of collecting and disposing the urine somewhere else, this seems like a good use of regulation/taxation/credits. Have a credit/tax that captures the value of not having the cow urine in the fields.


Watch the video. Besides it being interesting, towards the end he explicitly invites startups to come up with an idea on how to put the cow urine to good use.


Yup, finding efficiencies to create a market for the urine will make the economies of collecting it work better. I've never had interest in cow waste products until now..


Gates found a way to filter pee into water. He drank some on the record :)

Wonder if the same could be done with cow urine. After all, it all started as a drinkable water as well. Still would be hard to find market but in some rural areas or deserts where water is harder to find or more expensive...



Maybe they use it to make DEF/BlueTec, the diesel emissions additive. That is 30+% urea.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_exhaust_fluid


The urine is a valuable resource, actually: http://richearthinstitute.org/


> unless a commercial use for cow urine can be found, or laws changed, I can't imagine this product going anywhere.

I believe you havent heard from the ruling party of India and their ilk.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/cow-urine-cleaner-to-r...


You can buy urine online -- "We offer FREE SHIPPING to ALL orders to the US!":

https://www.thepeemart.com/

Of course it would be more efficient to have a site like "peeBay.com" where you can buy it fresh directly from the farmers.


Is used to fertilize fields since thousands of years, corn fields for example. Some crops need a lot of manure to work at its best.

If urine gets collected could be probably dehydrated. Would be much cheaper to move by truck.


If it works the end result is that larger and larger farms will be able to coexist with their non-farm neighbors.

Then new research with adding red algae (a seaweed variety) to their diet could cure the cow flatulence problem. Whole lot easier than Alexandria Ocasio Cortez's proposed solution and less expensive too!

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612452/how-seaweed-could-...

Here's an entire industry using technology to cure their environmental problems - or at least trying.


Crowd dispersal spray


Although funny, it's probably not as effective or economical (or ethical/sanitary) as pepper spray.


Pepper spray increases the demand for milk:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2_xMdgOPTE

"I need more milk!"


> "Once located, the nerve, which triggers the urinary reflex, is stimulated and the cow starts urinating. ... The visit to the toilet is combined with the receival[sic] of their daily portion of feed."

May be stretching the definition of voluntary.


Yeah, using the word voluntary is disingenuous. I'd be interested to see third-party research to determine if there's a developed preference, where both options are provided to cows - two different physical locations that they are both introduced to, and see if they're indifferent or if a percentage prefers one or the other.


Cows have learned to voluntarily (genuinely) use automatic milking machines.

(Now, apparently they like it because of the relief it provides to their swollen udders, which are swollen thanks to the hormonal state they are kept in, but still...)


In fact, you could even roughly quantify the degree to which cows like/dislike this experience by looking at the quality of food (or treats) that have to be paired with this versus a non-toilet feeder for the cows to be indifferent between the two options.


Judging by the video, the cow is free to touch or not to touch the toilet.


Yes the cow is perfectly free to starve


Very disappointed they didn't call this a "moo loo".


you should consider a career in marketing!


Cows don't have much purchasing power, so you are wrong.


Marketing and bovine scat. What a match.


Or a career as a cow whisperer.


I really like the design of the product logo: https://www.hanskamp.nl/uploads/webshop/products/2019/jan/ha...

For some reason, it's oddly satisfying to see two concepts merge into one cohesive logo.


I have the exact opposite feeling. Connecting head with toilet feels somehow wrong and I don't really feel comfortable looking at the logo. Also the "recycling-ears" feels like unnecessary addition to main concept of unholy merge of cow with toilet.


a "golden cow" so to speak?


I think they used the wrong graphic. They don’t poo, they pee in this thing so they should have converged a urinal and cow head. Also called it a cow urinal.


It looks a bit like the robot from The Day the Earth Stood Still.


> Noteworthy is that cows visit the CowToilet voluntarily. The visit to the toilet is combined with the receival of their daily portion of feed.

"Voluntarily"... right


I guess it is roughly true, in the same way that employment is voluntary.


Well, incentivized, it gets them to pee while the cow eats.


Is it much difference than milking them? It's just another liquid.


People in India drink cow urine. It's considered holy and healthy.. Google "why indians drink cow urine".


*Some people in India


OP didn't say "all people in India" so your correction isn't at all necessary or helpful.


It's an understandable correction though. For instance, if one were to say "People in the US are are Nazis" you can be certain many people would argue that a correction is both necessary and helpful.


I remember hearing about this from family members and seeing it online. I understand it happens, but is it really healthy or just urban legend/religious BS?


Religious BS


It's considered a medicinal drink in some religions.


No thanks, I'm good


Same. I had enough cow fluids today.


For me, it's really sad to see animals in that high density scenario as shown in the video. I'm not a plant based eater but I do feel myself getting pulled in that direction as time goes by.


I want everyone to go vegan, but I'm pragmatic and can recognize it's a life changing choice. But eating vegan 2-3 days a week is already a healthy step for you and you'll be saving 100+ animals per year from this kind of treatment. (source: http://thevegancalculator.com/#calculator)


This just makes me want to consume dairy/meat less, and I'm an omnivore.


Technically vegans are omnivores, too: being an omnivore means you are able to consume both plants and animals. Humans as a species are omnivores. Choosing to consume animal products is something else. I had always considered being an omnivore exclusive from being a vegan but I didn't have a good answer for lack of symmetry between a diet I am capable of eating and the diet I do eat. The "vegan" word for it is Carnism [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnism


Humans are frugivores, you got your whole history/life concepts wrong.


I think it is great that people are working on solving problems like this. As a feed stock for other processes I'm guessing that the big win here would be use in a modified Haber process to produce bulk Ammonia which is used in a number of chemical plants.


My husband sent this to me.

We had a small Jersey house cow,years ago, with only 1 ac to graze and 1/4 ac veg garden, that one cow produced more nutrient load than the land could absorb... composted before (there by reducing volume) spreading. Friends with a real dairy herd had 150 acres to use, and even they had a problem using it all.

This device is brilliant for the larger milk producers, and even a small New England Herds kept inside for the winter. Even a few hours eating in the atanchion barn leaves a lot of waste. To be able to collect and redirect this urine is solving Many problems on many levels. It makes a world of Common Sense to Me.

As to the manure waste, many country’s burn dry dung, and the clever folks who designed ‘Cow Pots’, have redirected manure in a beneficial way.

In Africa they still ‘pave’ the floors with cow dung and seal it with blood. It wouldn’t be a Martha Stewart approved design here, but certainly dried dung (mostly odorless cellulose) could be added to wood chips and made into bricks for fuel.

I think the Cow Toilet is a practical device and hope it will be affordable to any dairy that wants to implement it.

As for feed lots like the escresent ones in Coilinga CA.& elsewhere, be they Bovine or Porcine, or poultry; understand that the rules on the books need to be Enforced, and the graft/lobbyist elements removed. They’d get cleaned up or shut down darn fast without the greedy business machinery supporting them in government hallways.

A restoration farmers point of view from seven decades looking at life


I'm not sure this makes any kind of sense actually. My girlfriend, who is a biologist and works at a waste water treatment plant, tells me the ammonia from (cow out any other kind of) urine isn't really that much of a problem. There are other components that might be (mostly residues from various medicines, but those are hard to separate from the water) but according to her, ammonia is essentially less of a problem than the erosion caused by the cows walking on the ground in most cases.


These cows typically don’t walk on ground; they walk on a floor in a stable, and ammonia is a problem in the Netherlands, if only because the EU has set sets national emission reduction commitments (https://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/air/national-emission-ceili...), and cattle farms are a major source of ammonia.


So now we’re going to force them to pee by stimulating their urinary nerves!?

Another reason to stop our inhumane practice of enslaving, raping, and slaughtering cows to serve our tastes. We don’t need to do this to have nutritious healthy lives.


> Another reason to stop our inhumane practice of enslaving, raping, and slaughtering cows to serve our tastes.

Do a lot of people really rape cows..?


Only cows that have been pregnant produce milk. Cows are made pregnant to increase the duration of milk production, and to produce more cows for dairy or meat. (Edited for clarity)

The process of artificial insemination involves sticking a rod/hand with bull semen into their vaginas. Just do a quick search for this and you can see videos of how artificial insemination works. There’s also a process of hormone injections to ensure cows sync up for more efficient AI.

Usually most farmers justify this by talking about how it’s safer than letting a bull fuck the cow while it’s confined to a pen (how it was done in a bygone era).

Oh, and if you’re wondering about how they get the bull semen they have them fuck artificial vaginas, or masturbate them if that’s not working out.


>Only pregnant cows produce milk. Not true, a cow will produce milk many months after she gives birth.

Cows naturally get into heat, the behavior of the cow changes, she will start jumping on other cows and it is dangerous to be around it, you have to bring a bull or have it inseminated.

I know this because I was raised at a low tech farm, I am not aware of procedures or reasons to make a cow get pregnant more often but maybe this exists somewhere, if this was true probably it would be used for getting more meat not more milk,

Anyway there is no rape involved, if is artificial inseminated then it is a medical procedure, similar how fixing cows birth problems that involved doctors pushing their full arms in the cow is a medical procedure to save the cow.


Huh? Cows don’t lactate until calving. At least not any appreciable amount.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dairy_cattle#Animal_welfare

Artificial insemination isn’t rape. Keeping them confined isn’t slavery. Slaughtering them to eat them unnecessarily isn’t murder.


Sorry if I expressed myself wrong, english is not my native language and I am missing zoo-technical terminology. I was attempting to tell that it does not make sense AFAIK to get a cow pregnant more often then it is natural


That doesn't seem like a reasonable belief (without source) for two reasons:

1 - AFAIK, the natural process doesn't favor milk production above all else

2 - There has to be a reason artificial insemination is used. It _might_ be for higher veal production, as you imply, but I always thought this was a secondary aspect of the milk industry.

Also, in your original point, you argued that "there is no rape involved, if is artificial inseminated then it is a medical procedure".

If you want to argue that applying terms like "murder", "cruelty" and "rape" to animal husbandry isn't legitimate, fine. But let's be clear, medical procedures _have_ been used [probably since the beginning of medical history] to rape.


Any medical procedure without a consent is an assault. Then again sometimes consent can be inferred...


Are you sure on ANY? how do you get consent from your pet to treat it?


So all veterinarians are criminals, and all pets must be left to die without treatment?


> Only pregnant cows produce milk.

I think there's a definition confusion here. "Pregnant" means fertilised but had not yet given birth. After an animal gives birth, they are no longer pregnant. If an animal only produced milk when it's pregnant, then it would never have it at the right time for it's offspring.

I think you had meant to say "... if it has been pregnant recently". That's why there are so many confused replies to your comment.


>Only pregnant cows produce milk. //

That's not true.


Cows don’t really produce much or any milk until after giving birth. Milk is what they feed their babies...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dairy_cattle#Animal_welfare


Yes, cows which have given birth, not cows which are pregnant.


What about capturing methane from cows? Isn't that arguably bigger problem? Cows emit an enormous amount of methane which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.


Careful with the whataboutism. Methane's largely been solved by food additives that discourage methanogenic bacteria. We're talking about urine and ammonia right now.

Methane is more potent as a greenhouse gas, but it's shorter-lived, way less of a contributor to global warming than CO2, and doesn't appear to have anywhere near as much impact on the health or growth of animals or plants as heightened CO2 levels do.


Solved, but not implemented on a wide scale. I don’t know if it’s the added cost, availability or what else, but solved problems aren’t really solved if the solution is never implemented.


Thanks for your input. I tend to think of whataboutism in the political sphere. I suppose it goes beyond that.


> Urine as a businessmodel

lol ... I think this is enough internet for today


The video was so serious, but the 7 year old deep inside of me was just laughing the whole way through. I wonder if they realized the absurdity of this as they were making the marketing materials.


This partly addresses problems pointed out a few days ago in this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19368542

It's neat when that happens on HN.


That's extremely cool. It serves a need and apparently (according to their description) it actually works and the cows will use it.

(And obviously not needed for free-range grass-fed cows as opposed to congested feed lot cows.)


I understood the concept, after he made the cow pee with his hand within 10 seconds of stroking her slowly and tenderly.


They call it "voluntary" then say the creepy machine locates a nerve in the cows rear and stimulates it to induce urination. Nothing voluntary about forced urination... But these are animals routinely force-impregnated so maybe they're used to be abused.


Is there a bull toilet?


“Cow” includes bulls, heifers and steer.


That might be something that varies regionally.

In the usage I'm familiar with, "cow" specifically means a female who has given birth. As opposed to heifers, who haven't. The general term for any member of the species would be cattle (both singular and plural). You might use "cows" to more generally mean any female cattle, but using it to include males of the species, too, would be understood as humorous.


What is your source for this information? I have worked with meat for years and have never heard anyone react with humor to steers or bulls being referred to as cows. Go into a butcher shop and ask where their cows are raised and they will answer you without hesitation. Ask them without using the word and they will readily refer to beef as having come from a cow.

EDIT: Even googling "beef cows" provides a wealth of contradictions to your statement.


My source for this information is how the language is spoken among members of my social circle. Which admittedly doesn't include any butchers, just dairy farmers. Maybe our social circles are different. That's regional variation for you.


No it does not in agriculture. The toilet is not for bulls, simply because the bulls are already steaks. Farmers keep only a few of them. Just enough to fertilize the females.


I didn't say anything about the toilet. According to the dictionary "cow" can refer either specifically to females or to any cattle.


In the video, the farmer demonstrates how petting the vulva gives the cow a pissing reflex. That's not exactly applicable to bulls -- and if it were in a similar male area I'd spitball that you might end up with semen instead.


Get it to India. Huge potential market!


From the inventor of the Moth Ladder.


The product video shows the device working... after it shows a guy doing the same thing manually.


Outside the box thinking!


Now just make bottled water from cow urine and profit.


I thought it was going to turn out to be a new copy-on-write zero-day given the name.


The vulgar cousin of Heartbleed and Meltdown.


[flagged]


Please don't do this here.


Most of cow's methane comes from his mouth, not the other side.


Not sure why this is being downvoted. I am not sure even ammonia is even a problem to start according to the top comment here


It's not about methane. It's about ammonia.


"cow friendly" whilst showing a picture of a cow in a cage. Fuck dairy.


Picture any human on a toilet and it'll effectively also be a "human in a cage". What's the difference?


To an outsider, the metal bars remind of both human jails and stacked chicken cages.

It’s not easy to realize that they have to look like jail cell bars in order to avoid being damaged by the cow, and it’s not well-known that cows are taught to enter metal frames for food and such to let human work on and around them occur more safely.

Humans don’t as often need metal bars to avoid knocking the bathroom walls down, but when we need metal bars for support (ADA bathrooms), they look a lot like the cow bars.


Wow. See what you want to see. There's no cage. It's a voluntary system for cows.


I control all of your food, and only give you access to it at 3pm. When you come to eat at 3pm I also remove your bodily fluids for resale. You can deny me your bodily fluids only by not eating. Would you describe that as a voluntary arrangement?


I think most would volunteer their bodily fluids for free food


The cows will literally die in a very painful manner if you don't milk them.


Personally I don't do dairy products, but this is going to be great news for fertilizers containing manure.


How else do you suggest you align the cow onto the toilet itself? Cows are not potty-trained.


The cow voluntarily goes into the cage to get fed. Then it goes back out into the field. It's not like this cow lives it's life in that cage


Not just a cage, but one that barely fits them. Fuck dairy.


Watch the video.

The cow enters the cage voluntarily when it wants to eat. When it's done it leaves the cage.

The cage is just there to position the cow correctly over the toilet.


I love our society. Always chasing after solutions to things that aren’t really problems. Ban straws. Ban glasses of water. Ban cow pee. Forget that none of those things here make any material difference.


Single-use plastics is a big problem. It gets solved by chipping away it from a lot of different angles. Plastic straws are one piece of the problem.

My family loves straws and brings steel straws when we go out. No big deal. No one is banning steel straws.

The only hit I get when I search for "ban glasses of water" is this post. Perhaps you referring to bottled water? That's another piece of the single-use plastics problem.

Shifting away animal agriculture is one the top solutions for climate change ( https://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank ). So yes, cows and all their poop and pee are a very real problem. I don't think moving the piss around differently is nearly as a good solution as breeding and killing fewer cows, though!


> The only hit I get when I search for "ban glasses of water" is this post.

Used to be when you went to a restaurant they would automatically bring a glass of water to your table. Then "they" decided this was a bad thing so now you have to specifically ask for water if you want water.


I go out to eat at least twice a week, and I’ve never run into this. It sounds like the Daily Mail fed Grandpa Simpson LSD and wrote down whatever he mumbled.


I live in the 8% of california that just recently went from "drought" to "abnormally dry" and water only upon request is normal here.


Fair enough, but that’s just one state out of fifty, and in the context of a wider world as well.


> It sounds like the Daily Mail fed Grandpa Simpson LSD and wrote down whatever he mumbled.

Or Mother Jones?

And I heard about it much sooner than the linked article, think maybe back in the '90s.

https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/07/california-d...


But now you can have as many free glasses of cow pee as you like!


Completely different situations in this case. This isn’t banning cow urine, it’s solving a co-mingling problem with real economic costs and jusristictional concerns.


Wait why is this here?


It's a new invention/technology, it has potential impact on our environment, and it's interesting.


This is such a shitty product. (/s)

Edit: okay, clearly someone didn't get the pun.


They’re just being pissy.


urinit to deep


Now now, don't be cowed.

We should really steer this conversation somewhere else, before your karma goes down the toilet.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: