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.
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
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.
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.
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 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...
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.
It was operated very similarly to a dairy farm in Ireland 20 years ago, which is all I'm familiar with.
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.
There is just far too much cow manure produced here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
They’d also come home from pastures at night. That’s where the tastier nutrient dense food was.
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.
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.
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.
I do agree that companies that can accommodate remote workers soon all will, in varying degrees based upon job and client/customer requirements.
Plant-rich diets have been identified as a top solution to climate change.
Harvard research found switching away from dairy products to be a necessary contribution to meeting climate change goals:
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.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
Rising meat prices, for whatever reason, would tend to reduce consumption.
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.
It's not as cut and try and you may think.
I mean, I don't care if you aim for either "Luxury for all" or "Luxury isn't sustainable" but at least be consistent.
It pretty clearly isn't sustainable. So what would you do?
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.
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.
Certainly if the picture of the cow itself were on the package, and a randomly-generated name printed below the photo.
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.
A conventional dairy farm does not confine the animals it just collects their milk each day and the cows know the routine.
We loose track of the implementation details of how the food is sourced.
People raise cattle in Alaska.
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...
I believe you havent heard from the ruling party of India and their ilk.
If urine gets collected could be probably dehydrated. Would be much cheaper to move by truck.
Of course it would be more efficient to have a site like "peeBay.com" where you can buy it fresh directly from the farmers.
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!
Here's an entire industry using technology to cure their environmental problems - or at least trying.
"I need more milk!"
May be stretching the definition of voluntary.
(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...)
For some reason, it's oddly satisfying to see two concepts merge into one cohesive logo.
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
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
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.
Do a lot of people really rape cows..?
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.
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.
Artificial insemination isn’t rape. Keeping them confined isn’t slavery. Slaughtering them to eat them unnecessarily isn’t murder.
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.
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.
That's not true.
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.
lol ... I think this is enough internet for today
It's neat when that happens on HN.
(And obviously not needed for free-range grass-fed cows as opposed to congested feed lot cows.)
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.
EDIT: Even googling "beef cows" provides a wealth of contradictions to your statement.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Or Mother Jones?
And I heard about it much sooner than the linked article, think maybe back in the '90s.
Edit: okay, clearly someone didn't get the pun.
We should really steer this conversation somewhere else, before your karma goes down the toilet.