Instead of milling around aimlessly in pens, as most cows do, William Taylor's herd is put to work. As they eat, they walk on an electricity-generating treadmill.
Taylor has invented, among other contraptions, a better manure mixer and a pen that prevents cows from kicking vets during medical procedures on his farm in Northern Ireland.
Some studies suggest that cows that exercise make more milk, so Taylor plans to study the system's health benefits this fall. As a bonus, he speculates that it might cut cattle's methane problem—cows burp up to 20 percent of the world's emissions of this powerful greenhouse gas. Humans, he notes, tend to be more gassy if they lounge around. "Helping cows produce less methane while cranking out energy should get them better PR."
This could mean the end of cows grazing in fields, I bet this guy will get so rich that he wont be a farmer anymore.
It sux being a cow these days.
True, the only time a modern milker goes to field is not to eat, but to exercise enough that they don't die in the milking stall.
If installing these treadmills was even close to affordable, much less profitable, then the ability to never field your cattle would greatly reduce land consumption for dairy.
Of course, the "Food Inc." people will have, well, a cow, over a cow living life in a 4x10 pen, but it sounds like god buisness to me.
i think that it's a ok invention. It probably won't last long though cause someone somwhere is gonna say that its animal cruelty, and they'll make it illegal to use the machine.
This could be really beneficial because it is saving energy and its not spoending more money on gas. this is also like going green because since it does not use any natural fuels, it doesn't harm the enviornment. this is a good idea and should be mass produced, and shipped to all farms.
This new invention can prove to be very useful towards the environment and further needs of our communities. We now have the possibility to save more energy than we have ever dreaned of in this small invention. It uses natural fuels and it's completely environmentaly friendly! =)
Better yet, harvest the methane by sticking a tube up the cows anus. (Really) Methane is quite a potent energy source in addition to being a greenhouse gas.
You may want to check the math. A typical draft horse can not produce more than 746 watts per hour (one horse power) and a milk cow could not possibly produce as much energy as a draft horse.
The article has a milk cow producing almost 3 horsepower!!
Like a great many things, this seems like a good idea...
... until you consider the cost of bringing feed to the stationary cattle.
At best, this offsets the current cost. I doubt there will be a net gain.
Pretty good idea. Getting power from cows that could use the exercise. Really good idea. So now not only do we get steak, milk, and hamburgers from cows but power too! Very nice.
This invention could be adapted for many herd animals besides cows. I think it would work with sheep, goats, camels, & pigs to start with. In most places where people live "off the grid" they don't have electricity, but do have livestock. Even a 6-12 VAC electric system beats no electricity at all.
So potentially, people in the 3rd world (some of the worlds poorest in fact) could use the basics of this invention to completely change their lives. They would get an immediate ROI just from being able to charge a 6 volt battery & run some lights salvaged from a wrecked motor bike.
I would seriously encourage the inventor to develop the idea using a LGPL/CDDL modified license on the invention. Software developers sadly most often do not even realize that the GNU licenses are _templates_. They don't have to all match, nor were they designed to.
Why limit this to livestock? I've been thinking for several months now that this exact concept could be applied to gym equipment. What if you could cut down your electric bill by generating your own power on the treadmill or with resistance training? You get fit and save money.
Why don't we do this with prisoners?
@Oakspar77777, @Nate Henry,
The animal rights activists would be correct that the current machine is unacceptable... however this is really a simple design problem. The current machine could be very easily modified to be more open and more humane to the animal. They could make the floor of a regular pen be a treadmill, use belts to drive the generator etc.
I think this technology could have a great future with some simple design changes.
I may have misread the article, but the animals on the treadmill are not in a pen. They walk up the treadmill to reach the grain or feed, similar to walking up a treadmill with a goal at the front. You don't want it you simply stop walking and leave the treadmill. The pen is for during treatment of the animal during other times. If you penned the animal on the treadmill, it would simply rest against the back of the treadmill or lay down.
I personally think this is good news for cows. I mean, how many hours does a cow spend each day doing nothing in it's pen?