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Can you train a cow when/where to wee?

The research team that once looked into the question “Does water or blowing air stimulate Canadian cows to defecate?” has now tried to teach calves when and where to wee, to see if it could be done. Here’s their new study:

Operant conditioning of urination by calves,” Alison Vaughan, Anne Marie de Passillé, Joseph Stookey, and Jeffrey Rushen. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 158 (2014): 8-15. (Thank to Stephanie Lürzel for bringing this to our attention.) The authors report:

“It is usually assumed that cattle are not capable ofcontrolling defecation and urination. We tested whether calves could be taught to urinatein a location using either classical or operant conditioning…. Calves trained using operant conditioning had a higher frequency of urinations in the stallthan their controls (means ± SE = 5.25 ± 0.95 vs. 2.32 ± 0.52). The results of our experiments how it may be feasible to train cattle to urinate in specific areas using operant conditioning.”

Here’s further detail from the study, showing how it was done:


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