Friday, 22 January 2021 06:55

Cow toilet collects gold

Written by  Mark Daniel
Designed by Dutch firm Handkamp, the Cow Toilet collects 15 to 20 litres of urine produced daily by a typically housed European cow. Designed by Dutch firm Handkamp, the Cow Toilet collects 15 to 20 litres of urine produced daily by a typically housed European cow.

While we are used to hearing about the latest hi-tech tractors or machines winning medals for technical innovation, it seems that in the livestock sector, designers and manufacturers are also taking awards, often for developing solutions for more basic problems.

That’s the case for a Cow Toilet, which took out the only Gold Award at the 2021 Digital Eurotier Livestock Machinery Event.

Featuring a suspended bowl that collects the 15 to 20 litres of urine produced by a typical housed European cow every day, the toilet, designed by Dutch firm Handkamp, separates manure from urine at source to help reduce ammonia emissions.

The collection system is integrated into the rear section of a specifically designed feeding station. In operation, the front of the unit stimulates a specific nerve bundle just about the cow’s udder, causing the animal to spontaneously urinate. The resultant liquid is filtered through a sieve, then drained via a suction line to storage.

Tests on local farms show that the system collects around 50% of the daily urine production, which given there are 1.5 million dairy cows in the Netherlands means there is a potential to collect 15 million litres of urine. The manufacturer is already looking for uses for the liquid, with tests already underway to assess its viability as a fertiliser on local fruit farms. There is also research being done on its viability as a fuel or for the generation of electricity.

Back in the dairy barn, additional benefits of separation are said to be cleaner floors, improved hoof health and better air quality. Still around 18 months away from commercial availability, the €20,000 units, each capable of dealing with 25 cows, are also being trialled for possible integration into robotic milking systems.

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