Should We Stick Cows on Treadmills to Generate Electricity?

energy-generating treadmill

Energy-generating treadmills for humans? Been there, done that. William Taylor, a farmer in Northern Ireland, has decided to put idle cows on treadmills to produce power for his farm, according to Popular Science.

The inclined belt causes cows to slide off unless they continue to move forward. The forward-walking motion causes the belt to turn, spinning a gearbox that drives a generator. A feed box sits in front of the treadmill to keep the cows on their toes.

It's not as crazy as it sounds. Cows already spend up to 8 hours a day milling around while grazing. Taylor just sticks the cows on a treadmill for part of the time. The farmer's prototype treadmill can generate two kilowatts, or enough energy to power four milking machines. Cows that exercise are also thought to produce more milk.

We're not entirely on board with Taylor's scheme. Cows should be allowed to spend their exercise time grazing, and planting a feed box in front of a treadmill just seems cruel. Combine this with the recent news that a Russian farmer has installed Samsung LED 7000 series TVs in his cow shed and it appears that farmers are slowly turning their sheds into high-end cow gyms.

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  • wendy winkie

    How this is anything but cruel, is beyond me. Hey, while we are on the topic of humane, I have an idea! Make prisoners earn their keep by mandating 8 hours of treadmill work a day! The taxpayer is already overburdened bailing out numb-skulls, so why not give some back to the taxpayer? I have to pay for my electricity, so shouldn't they? Seems like cows need to pay their way to the slaughterhouse as well!

  • Salvatore McCarty

    There's a movement I've heard about to use the fecal matter of cows as biomass to power a generator, so put the cow on the treadmill, and put a diaper on it and voila, we've got two sources of alternative energy, all from a big cuddly cow. As for the humanity- I think that as long as we aren't torturing the cows, that a little tread-mill work and the domestication of a diaper would be good for farming.

  • ken steen

    Sure! Then next we can get these really cool generators that you can attach blades to and they will generate electricity when the wind blows! Also, you can attach generators to big wheels then run water over them. How cool is that?

    Is this a crazy age or what? Next thing you will be telling me I can talk into a box and people can hear me on the other side of the country!

    I tell you, all these newfangled technologies make my head spin...


  • JC Wes

    A feedbox in front of a treadmill seems cruel? Certainly not more cruel than general life on a factory farm, or the rush to a slaughterhouse demise. Cows produce a lot of greenhouse gases (methane in particular). They might as well try and make up for it.
    But what do Russian cows watch on those TVs?

  • Michael Barnard

    Million dollar dairy farms have water beds for the cows, it is insane.