Dutch Inventor Creates “Cow Toilet” That Curbs Ammonia Pollution

Dutch inventor and businessman Henk Hanskamp has developed an ingenious toilet that collects some of the 15 to 20 liters of urine that the average cow produces in a day.

Cows aren’t regarded as the smartest creatures in the animal kingdom, but Hanskamp claims they can be taught to use the toilet. It may sound like an April Fool’s Day joke, but Dutch agricultural machinery manufacturer Hanskamp has been working on the “Cow Toilet” for the last couple of years and according to early tests it could prove a viable solution to the world’s increasingly worrisome ammonia pollution problem. While most cows require stimulation in order to use the cow toilet, some of them have gotten so used to it that they just urinate in it naturally.

Photo: Hanskamp/YouTube

So how does this wacky-sounding invention work? Well, it’s quite simple, really. When the cow goes into a gated feeding area, a metallic arm with a bucket-like receptacle at the end drops down behind it and gently rubs the animal’s escutcheon – a nerve which stretches between the cow’s vulva and udder – to stimulate urination. The urine goes into the mobile receptacle and is then stored separately.

The Cow Toilet is currently being tested on a farm near the eastern Dutch town of Doetinchem, and 7 of the 58 cows there have already learned to use it without stimulation.

“The cows have got used to it, they recognise the box, lift their tail, and pee,” Henk Hanskamp recently told AFP. “A cow is never going to be completely clean but you can teach them to go to the toilet.”


By ensuring that the urine doesn’t mix with the solid manure, the Cow Toilet helps lower ammonia emissions right at the source, while also keeping the cows cleaner and healthier. Jan Velema, a vet who took part in the tests, said that ever since the ingenious device was introduced the cows stables have become drier and cleaner, which is great for the legs and hooves of the animals.

“This system also offers great opportunities for new revenues,” the Hanskamp website states. “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. The Cow Toilet by Hanskamp contributes to a sustainable and profitable future in dairy farming.”