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Cows On Treadmills Produce Clean Power For Farms

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the mooves-you-to-tears dept.

Earth 640

separsons writes "William Taylor, a farmer in Northern Ireland, recently developed the Livestock Power Mill, a treadmill for cows. Taylor uses the device to generate clean, renewable power for his farm. Cows are locked into a pen on top of a non-powered, inclined belt. The cows' walking turns the belt, which spins a gearbox to drive a generator. One cow can produce about two kilowatts of electricity, enough energy to power four milking machines. It may seem like a kooky idea, but Taylor could be onto something: According to his calculations, if the world's 1.3 billion cattle used treadmills for eight hours a day, they could provide six percent of the world's power!"

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640 comments

Food? (5, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897210)

Do they need to eat more?

Re:Food? (3, Insightful)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897226)

They would probably be walking around anyway.

Re:Food? (4, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897370)

Apparently you've never watched cows grazing out in an open field. They do move around, but only enough to get fresh grass between their lips. They don't trot from one end of the field to the other. They mow a bit, take a step, mow a bit, take a step. Sure, they do end up going a fair distance over time, but nothing like being forced to walk a treadmill.

Re:Food? (4, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897402)

Apparently you've never watched cows grazing out in an open field.

I saw one open a box of oreos and eat it right in the aisle at Safeway. She was sitting on a scooter, so that probably changes the whole exercise dynamic, though.

Re:Food? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897716)

Apparently you've never watched cows grazing out in an open field.

I saw one open a box of oreos and eat it right in the aisle at Safeway. She was sitting on a scooter, so that probably changes the whole exercise dynamic, though.

No shit. I've never seen a person with an actual handicap or disability using those scooters. Every one of them had two arms and two legs and none of them were paraplegics or quadraplegics. All of them were really, horribly, disgustingly fat. I'm talking like, on the women you could not tell their gut from their tits, and the rolls of fat hanging from their shoulder blades looked like another, deformed set of tits.

I guess they don't want to walk because they might lose some of their precious calories that way. They looked like they were trying to hang onto all the calories they could get. It's cute the way each one of them wants to pretend like their lifestyle choices have absolutely nothing to do with their weight. Helpless innocent victims, they'd have you believe.

Re:Food? (4, Insightful)

ElizabethGreene (1185405) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897676)

Just to make sure I understand... We grow grain with petroleum based fertilizers, harvest it with diesel powered combines, diesel truck it over asphalt highways, and then feed it to cows on treadmills to make electricity. Then we diesel truck the manure off and bury it in a landfill.

Yes, that make perfect sense.

Here is a crazier idea! Let the cows WALK to gather GRASS instead. Then use the corn for ethanol! Why we insist on feeding 75% of our grain production to ruminants baffles me.

-ellie

Re:Food? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897744)

>> Then we diesel truck the manure off and bury it in a landfill.

Y'all ain't from around here, are ya?

Re:Food? (1)

Cmdr-Absurd (780125) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897814)

You forgot the methane and C02 produced by the cows.

Re:Food? (4, Funny)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897424)

The cows around your parts must be completely different than the lazy fucks around here.

Sure they take a step now and then when their mouth can't reach anything edible anymore, but I wouldn't really call it "walking".

Just ask an Intelligent Designer, they'll explain that cows are so lazy they only bothered walking part way up the hill when the flood came and hence were fossilized in the middle instead of at the top, like the less lazy people.

Re:Food? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897572)

Yup, just the opposite of those millions of hard-working shellfish that managed to climb to the tops of huge mountain ranges in order to be fossilized.

Re:Food? (3, Funny)

bradm (27075) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897416)

TFA says that cows walk around 8 hours a day grazing anyway.

Let's get to the more important questions: What impact does all that captive exercise have on the tasty dairy and beef products so critical to maintaining our waistlines and thickening our arteries?

If it makes the beef even better and generates power, it's a total win.

(With unheartfelt apologies to the veg types in the crowd).

Re:Food? (3, Interesting)

Surt (22457) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897584)

Unfortunately, increasing exercise will reduce the tastiness of both milk and meat. The meat gets leaner (the fat is the part that gives is great taste, and is why kobe is legally required to have a minimum fat content). The milk tends to have more stress byproducts, but that impact is less important.

Re:Food? (1)

madsenj37 (612413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897658)

Taste was secondary to health concerns in his question. So, yes perhaps the beef becomes less tasty, but we the consumers of beef and beef itself, becomes healthier with the beef on exercise and a grass-fed diet. I would much rather see grass-fed as the dominant food source and pay more. End corn subsidies now.

Re:Food? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897596)

It’s exercise. It probably makes the meat leaner, better for you, slightly less tasty, etc.

Re:Food? (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897598)

Not only that, but they're gonna fart a hell of a lot more, too. Should we harvest the methane?

Re:Food? (1)

quenda (644621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897718)

No way can a cow do 2kW for 8 hours. How long have you seen a cow run for?
A fit human can do maybe 200W on a pedal generator, so 2kW is a lot even for a bovine.
Its nearly 3 horsepower.
Horses can run better than cows, but still not for hours solid.
Maybe if we bred a billion Clydesdale horses, it might put a small dent in global energy needs.

methane, more food, etc? A greenwash. (2, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897756)

This is just a distractionary greenwash.

  • The livestock industry is already the largest source of methane [epa.gov] . This would no doubt result in more methane.
  • Cattle already require enormous amounts of feed to produce the same amount of caloric food value (ie, it's much more efficient to eat bread and vegetables in terms of how much food grown makes it to you, by the calorie.) This will make them consume more food.

It's kind of staggering to realize that there are almost 100 million cows in the US.

Meat cows? (0)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897212)

I'm not sure I want my cows exercising. Their muscles will get tough and stringy.

It may be a bit more expensive and resource consuming, but fat, lazy cows are what I want.

Re:Meat cows? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897298)

I'm not sure I want my cows exercising. Their muscles will get tough and stringy.

It may be a bit more expensive and resource consuming, but fat, lazy cows are what I want.

For steaks, sure, but for ground beef, you want it lean.

Re:Meat cows? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897538)

I'm not sure I want my cows exercising. Their muscles will get tough and stringy.

It may be a bit more expensive and resource consuming, but fat, lazy cows are what I want.

For steaks, sure, but for ground beef, you want it lean.

Unless you are making hamburgers. All the best burgers have higher fat content. The leaner the burger the more non-meat stuff you have to put in to get it to stick together.

Re:Meat cows? (1)

Nyall (646782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897304)

So make them into hamburger.

Re:Meat cows? (4, Funny)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897340)

One cow can produce about two kilowatts of electricity, enough energy to power four milking machines.

The real question is: Does it make the Milk tough?

Re:Meat cows? (2, Insightful)

odin84gk (1162545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897344)

Doesn't matter if they are dairy cows. Exercised cows = happy cows = better milk.

Re:Meat cows? (2, Interesting)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897818)

I dunno, if I was forced to exercise 8 hours a day, I probably wouldn't be all that happy... especially if it was on a treadmill where I couldn't actually GET anywhere.

If you're gonna use happy and animals together.. you can't do it while they are penned up forcing them them to do labour all day.

That said, I don't object in to penning animals in general, after all I like their tasty flesh and white milk and cream.. and eggs.. man I love eggs.

What? (3, Insightful)

sbierwagen (1493705) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897222)

Don't the cows have to... eat? How is this any more efficient than burning corn directly?

Re:What? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897620)

The cows are going to eat and walk anyways... Might as well make the cow more efficient. There is a lot of energy wasted anyways might as well capture some if it and convert it to a more useful form.

Re:What? (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897650)

Thermodynamically it's probably close to the same efficiency you'd get if you burned the corn, muscle is about as efficient as a gasoline engine on a per weight basis when you take conversion of food into ATP into account. However, unlike an engine, prime mover(moover?) ends up being edible so you don't have the problem of "burning food for fuel" that your corn burning engine would have.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897652)

You get to trade whinging greenies for animal rights activists, who are far less resourceful and organised.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897666)

It's not plus you have to build the tread mills. Epic fail, think it through first!

Re:What? (4, Funny)

Explodicle (818405) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897674)

It's used in conjunction with a form of nuclear fusion. Just an intermediate step before plugging them into the Meatrix [themeatrix.com] .

Re:What? (4, Insightful)

quenda (644621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897774)

Corn? Cows eat grass. Feeding them corn would be a huge waste of resources.

Spoil the meat? (1)

PolyDwarf (156355) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897230)

I thought you weren't supposed to exercise the meat you eat, because un-exercised meat tasted better (see Kobe beef).

Re:Spoil the meat? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897272)

In this case I think he is using dairy cows for his particular needs.

Re:Spoil the meat? (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897292)

One cow can produce about two kilowatts of electricity, enough energy to power four milking machines.

They're talking about milk cows, the ones that normally are out to pasture wandering around anyway.

Re:Spoil the meat? (1)

c (8461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897354)

> I thought you weren't supposed to exercise the meat you eat

Milk cows. People don't eat them too often.

That being said, a farmer's daughter I know told me that they actually increased milk yields when they reduced access to the exercise yard for their cows. I would imagine the reduction in costs due to power use would more than offet a reduction in yield, though.

c.

Re:Spoil the meat? (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897710)

Reduction in yield? Is this a problem [wordpress.com] ?

But it's not as cool as... (3, Funny)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897250)

sharks with lasers.

"Does your farm run on solar power?" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897252)

"No, sirloin power!"

1.3 billion treadmills needed (4, Insightful)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897260)

And how long would it take a cow walking on a treadmill to produce an amount of energy equivalent to that used to produce the treadmill (including its raw materials) anyway?
But if he's got 1.3 billion cow treadmills handy, I'd happily take one if I had a cow.

Re:1.3 billion treadmills needed (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897588)

That thought crossed my mind too. It's all about cost: how much does the device cost, and how much maintenance it requires, this translates into a cost per Kwh, which tells us if it is a good idea; but I guess it'll probably be more expensive than wind power.

This is NOT a treadmill for cows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897264)

This guy just took a stock heavy-duty treadmill, and painted over the "Jessica Simpson" with "Livestock."

Brutal civilization. (2, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897268)

Shouldnt we fix the abomination that livestock industry is, in that they make cows live in 1x2 m enclosed space from their birth to their death in the first place.

reminds of how big corporations treat people like livestock and make them toil for dimes in cramped spaces ... a society's mindset reflects on every aspect of life.

Re:Brutal civilization. (1)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897394)

"reminds of how big corporations treat people like livestock and make them toil for dimes in cramped spaces ... a society's mindset reflects on every aspect of life." But do the sheeple taste as good as the cows?

Re:Brutal civilization. (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897560)

Yes. They're cheaper to make and people willing die so they can be eaten! [wikipedia.org]

Re:Brutal civilization. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897476)

While I completely agree because I think it's wrong, and I do not eat veal (I am not a vegetarian though), not all live stock live in the crates for their life.

However, I was thinking the exact same thing--how cruel of a life is it to not only eat them at the end, but we also force them into a life in a box where they make our electricity all day.

Re:Brutal civilization. (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897536)

Reminds me of the matrix.

Maybe the next thing we can do is allow the cows to live in a virtual reality world where it seems like they are grazing in the grass when they're really on a treadmill making our electricity.

Maybe the reality of the matrix is that the machines needed humans to... Eat. Because we tasted yummy to them or something after they processed us into fuel.

Or maybe they needed to eat our thoughts because information was so important to them and we were random generators of information which were hard to replicate in machines.

Re:Brutal civilization. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897498)

I think you're missing something: immersive VR. Imagine you're a cow just kinda hanging around on a treadmill. Let's also assume that the treadmill is on a giant ball so you can turn, etc. Everywhere you look you see pasture and other cows. Life is bliss!

Of course, the power goes out and suddenly wolves start showing up - just to get the juices flowing again. But you'll get to visit the grand canyon, run with the buffalo, and do all sorts of things that other cows cannot.

We'll shove a tube up their butts to siphon off the methane and get even more power from the little beasties. It's cow-matrix!

Re:Brutal civilization. (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897580)

It appears their answer is to put the cows on a treadmill that is approximately 1x2m instead. I'm all for eating other animals that aren't smart enough to dodge a bullet, but I prefer my meat isn't tortured (veal) or subjected to crowded unhappy lives either (chickens, pigs, cows). It is a true dilemma. It isn't easy to find meat that is raised like a normal animal in the eastern USA.

Re:Brutal civilization. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897820)

It is pretty easy to find, you just have to kill it yourself. I can guaranty that 95%+ of the time, an animal you shoot and butcher yourself will suffer less than something raised on a factory farm.

Re:Brutal civilization. (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897742)

Not to mention that a huge number of cows are fed corn, which is a food that eventually causes liver failure -- by the time the cow is slaughtered, it was basically going to die anyway. But hey, the FDA says that the quality of beef is determined by marbling, and corn gives way more marbling than grass (the cow's natural food, which we don't exactly lack), and it lets us grow and subsidize a shitload of corn, so who cares about the cows?

Everyone sets the line in a different spot (2, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897816)

while you and a few others will decide the pen is too small someone else will come along and call you barbaric for what you accept. Some may decide that one size permits too much movement which somehow injures the cow. Another might decide its painted the wrong color, get what I mean? There is permanent goal, meet one and they will make another or move it further out.

No farmer wants animals harmed or raised in unsafe manners, it is not cost effective. On a farm with a few thousand head of cattle it ain't hard to find an animal who is not healthy or into a situation you could not predict.

As far as the quip about big corporations and cubes, spend less time ranting and more time starting your own business. Oh, I forgot, ranting is so much easier. There is a reason why so many are employed by big corporations, it is because it is far easier to let someone else make the decisions for you and take the risk for you. This is the same reason why many have no problem giving up their personal and financial freedom to the government for the coddling they believe they receive in return.

We seem to put more care into the well being of animals than ourselves.

The same for people on social assistance. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897270)

Anyone who is perfectly capable of working, but who chooses not to and is on social assistance should do something similar. If they want their check, they need to run on a treadmill or peddle a bike or something until they've earned their money.

This would be a great benefit to most of the southern states in the USA. Large percentages of the population there are on social assistance (mostly provided by California and the northern states). At least now they'd be able to generate their own power, which will help cut down their own expenses, or they can sell that power to other states.

Not only that, but obesity is a huge problem in the states with the highest number of welfare recipients. Making them exercise even on just a bi-weekly basis would help trim them down to size. They'd be healthier, would consume less food, and might be in a better position to actually contribute to society for once.

Saves running (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897274)

A cable out to the milking shed though - it is at least convenient.

Healther meat too? (1)

arkham6 (24514) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897280)

I would imagine that cows that get regular exercise like this probably have meat that is much leaner than regular feed fed cows.

Power to help the farm AND a healthier product for the population at large? Sounds like a double win.

Two kilowatts... (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897290)

that's enough to produce 11,755.1486 horsepower hours in a year!

Re:Two kilowatts... (2, Funny)

Jeian (409916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897338)

Don't you mean "cowpower?"

Re:Two kilowatts... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897492)

No, there is no unit at present which represents cow power. A (mechanical) horsepower is defined as 550 foot-lbs per second and was selected as a sort of average amount for draft horses for comparison against steam engines.

For instance that whoosh is going over my head with a full 4 horsepower.

Re:Two kilowatts... (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897648)

No, there is no unit at present which represents cow power.

Well, there is now... a cow is equal to about 2.68 horsepower [google.com] .

Re:Two kilowatts... (2, Insightful)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897698)

Cowpower = 2000 W
Horsepower = 745.7 W

WTF?

Ox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897296)

Those are no cows [wikipedia.org] ... We've been using them for centuries.

Torture? ASPCA should investigate. (4, Interesting)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897314)

There are two glaring faults with this setup:

#1) The cows are 'locked in'.
#2) The treadmill is inclined.

This results in the animal walking out of 'fear' from falling. The inability of the animal to stop whenever it wants is cruel treatment. On the other hand, if it were 'elective' and the cows got a special treat (a yummy grass/feed?) then it is a different story.

I would like to see how guy would like to be locked onto a treadmill 8hrs a day, walking uphill the entire time.

I doubt the quality of the milk would be very good. Stress does not make for a nice quality or quantity of milk. (I used to work on a dairy farm.)

Re:Torture? ASPCA should investigate. (1)

Lohrno (670867) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897432)

I guess it's better than them being just locked up all the time maybe? At least they get some exercise. I agree with the elective thing though, and them generating energy is maybe better for the environment? It all does bear some investigation, but it seems like a decent idea.

Re:Torture? ASPCA should investigate. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897516)

You mean in addition to the fact that this would have to violate the laws of thermodynamics to be useful?

Re:Torture? ASPCA should investigate. (2, Insightful)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897522)

I would like to see how guy would like to be locked onto a treadmill 8hrs a day, walking uphill the entire time.

Let me guess, you are also one of those people who gives your dog purified water, human food, a spring mattress to sleep on, and keeps them inside all day so they are more comfortable. I am an animal lover, have a feisty fat tabby and a Yellow Lab. Both very happy and healthy, why? Because I treat them like the animals they are. My dog gets dog food, I leave her outside all day, she rolls in mud puddles, chews on dead things, and occationally steals a treat from the kitty litter box when we aren't looking..

My point? These are COWS I have worked with cattle, I grew up in a farming community and worked on farms for most of my childhood. Cows are happy pretty much anywhere they don't have to swat flies. Treating a cow like a human is sheer stupidity because it would make them miserable.

Re:Torture? ASPCA should investigate. (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897684)

His cows can’t stand still on hillsides without fear of falling down? Shoulda bought some of those hill-cows... [urbandictionary.com]

Riiiggghhht.... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897324)

And if all the birds in the world flew west at the same time, the planet would spin faster.

And if all the snakes in the world crawled east at the same time it would spin slower.

And if I wake up from this lousy dream one more time, I'm hunting doolittle down and feeding him to the fishes...

Really clean power? (3, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897332)

Funny and innovative as the idea is: I wonder how clean this energy really is. It doesn't come out of thin air, those cows have to eat. And a cow's digestive system tends to produce quite some methane (a major greenhouse gas), and quite some waste - which also releases lots of ammonia amongst other harmful chemicals. On top of that the fodder also has to be produced (often using power for machinery and so), and a cow that walks that much definitely eats a lot more than a cow that grazes the pasture or is kept in a stable without much room to move.

And besides I think there are much more cattle-friendly ways to exercise your cow.

interesting (1)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897334)

I was a little concerned over the treatment of the cows but the guy doing it made an interesting point:

It may seem cruel to make cows sweat it out on a treadmill, but the routine is actually quite similar to the animals' normal behavior. Cows walk about eight hours a day while grazing. Doing that walking on a treadmill provides the same amount of exercise with the added bonus of renewable power production.

Also, after thinking about it, I can't think that this is any worse than making them stand shoulder to shoulder, knee deep in their own shit in the high density feed lot while they're finished off with corn before processing. The cows might actually prefer this to the high density feed lot.

Cows with guns (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897346)

Wake me up when they come with their own mounted systems for bovine freedom.

I think they might want to take this technology to Southeast Asia... elephants are not only much more massive but also seem much more active, and the elephant conservatories in Thailand are always looking for things to do to make money to afford to keep their brood occupied and healthy. /drove through Wisconsin last week, saw mounted cows.

Re:Cows with guns (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897680)

drove through Wisconsin last week, saw mounted cows I can only assume they were being mounted by bulls, and not Wisconsin dairy farmers...

Blasphemy! (3, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897396)

How do the Hindus feel about their ancestors being forced into manual labor like this, when they could have used human beings instead? And how does the cost of buying and maintaining a cow treadmill compare to the cost of a solar power array that would generate 2 kilowatts without the constant trouble of cleaning all the cow shit off of it? Cows are one of the least efficient animals at turning grain into meat; I suspect they are also grossly inefficient at turning grain into power. If you take that same grain, ferment it, distill it, and use it to power an engine, how much more or less power output would you get?

Re:Blasphemy! (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897628)

Or maybe just use the natural gas and diesel directly (or have the energy numbers changed a whole bunch on grain->ethanol?).

Take it to the next level (1)

DieByWire (744043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897450)

The next logical step is to install these at MacDonalds.

Re:Take it to the next level (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897600)

and have the human cows use a treadmill to power the burger frier

Re:Take it to the next level (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897714)

they already have: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8621038.stm [bbc.co.uk]

on a more serious note, i would buy a pedal generator for my laptop if i could find it at a reasonable price (my cousin said he could build one for me with 100-200 euros, so I would pay 70-100 euros for one).
why spend money on the gym when I can work out while working?

Brilliant! (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897490)

It'll be even better when PETA finds out about this.

Put cow in tiny box which is sloped so they keep walking up hill, shove food in its face, hook the belt they are turning while walking up hill to a generator which in turn powers the milking machine that is hooked to the cow's udders.

They milk themselves, while being put on a forced march.

That should generate entertainment in the form of PETA ravings.

Bad for the meat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897494)

Meat is muscle tissue, the more they exercise, the harder the meat gets.
Worst idea ever.

Re:Bad for the meat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897784)

Just like watching buns of steel.

PETA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897518)

Just wait for PETA to hear about this and complain about animal cruelty.

And we can use their burps to ignite their crap (1)

Orga (1720130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897520)

The methane from the digestion that poroduce can start their crap on fire. All we need is a little midget to manage it all.... let's call him Master...

MMMM TASTY STEW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897534)

This is hardly new... (5, Interesting)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897578)

In Lincoln's New Salem, near Springfield, Illinois, there is a reconstructed carding mill [waymarking.com] powered by a tilted tread wheel on which an ox walked to supply the power. This would have been in use around 1830.

This is the meatrix (2, Interesting)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897604)

Cows are batteries, not this silly stuff: http://www.themeatrix.com/ [themeatrix.com]

Methane (3, Interesting)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897624)

Some people have joked about methane, but for those concerned about greenhouse gases, this would probably be worse than burning coal. Methane from livestock is a major source of greenhouse gases, to the point where one's personal impact on greenhouse gases is greater from giving up animal products than giving up one's car.

What I don't get... (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897632)

...is why doesn't the `Y' hook it's treadmills up to generators? I have seen fat cows walking on them all day - the energy they produce is just lost as waste heat. It would be far better to redirect it into the grid.

Time for a new unit of measure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897656)

Cowpower?

Any idea on the conversion formula to horsepower?

Re:Time for a new unit of measure... (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897764)

How many Moogawatts is that?

WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897696)

Cows eat and drink a lot. It is ridiculously inefficient to use them as a source of energy. By the way not only for electrical energy. Also meat as a food is horribly inefficient use of resources.

result in better tasting meat? (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897700)

As a side effect, you could get better tasting meat. Where does meat gets it taste from> From the blood and the more blood, the more taste. Moving will increase the blood flow and thus the taste. The downside is that meat won't be as tender anymore and in todays world tender is more important then taste.

What the effect is if these are milking cows (which I assume, as they are talking about milking machines), I have no idea. Will the production and/or quality be the same, higher or lower?

All in all a great idea. Not a solution by itself, but there is no reason why we would go with only one solution.

Before we discuss cruelty to animals.. (2, Funny)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897712)

Have you ever seen a field or corn, wheat or strawberries? Those plants are packed in tight. This is completely opposite to how plants grow in the wild. It's so cruel that we force these plants to grow in tight, geometric formations, never able to get proper air circulation, we force grow them in pots which is never found in the wild and in densities never intended to by our mother, earth.

End Bovine Slavery! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897726)

I would add details but I need to moooove

Clean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897730)

What about the methane they produce, which is more powerful than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent?

Lean meat and healthier cows (1)

spyingwind (961097) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897754)

Wouldn't this mean that the cows would become a bit more health and in turn be more health for us to eat? Who really cares about energy when we are dieing from a bad hamburger...

Far Side? (2, Insightful)

statusbar (314703) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897758)

If only Gary Larson was still making Far Side comics. I'm certain he would make a very funny one!

--jeffk++

Calorie Man was right! (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897762)

YES! A legitimate place to plug the Calorie Man [wikipedia.org] books. Although Paolo envisioned gene-altered elephants or something, and not cows.

Tougher Meat (1)

WRX SKy (1118003) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897768)

Wouldn't this force the cattle to build muscle, and thereby create tougher eating meat... thus reducing the demand for cattle meat?

At least all those windmills will keep them cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897776)

WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY

-Morbo

(Stupid filter... I am yelling.)

Are we forgetting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31897798)

What did the cow say about it?

Brace for PETA shitstorm.. (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 4 years ago | (#31897804)

in 3, 2, 1..
Seriously, I'm not a PETA-type person at all, and even I think this is kind of a cruel thing to do to animals, even if it's cows we're talking about. Granted, they're not in the least bit bright, but we already use them for milk and eventually kill them for their meat and hide, it seems rather heartless to make them generate power as well.
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