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  • 04.19.10

Should We Stick Cows on Treadmills to Generate Electricity?

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.

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.

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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.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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