Bovine-Powered Treadmill Gets Cows Moo-ving To Produce Electricity

What right do those lazy cows have to be standing around in pastures all day, swishing their tails and chewing their grass while waiting for us hard-working humans to wring out every last drop of milk from them we can? Put them to work with the Livestock Power Mill, an invention from William Taylor of Northern Ireland, that produces electricity while cows walk on it.

“A cow is placed on a non-powered inclined belt and will slide downhill if it doesn’t walk forward,” explains Trend Hunter. “When the cow does walk forward, the belt turns, spinning a gearbox that drives a generator to produce electricity.” How does one keep the cow infatuated with the belt? Similarly to the time-tested carrot-on-a-stick lure, a feed box filled with munchies is placed at the front of the Power Mill, which will keep the cow contentedly walking forward for more grub.

Cow Power Mill

image via Trend Hunter

Thus far, tests conducted on a single-cow machine have produced two kilowatts of power. Tests conducted on a 50-cow Livestock Power Mill reportedly helps reduce bovine methane emissions. William Taylor says suckler cows are best suited for the mill, though dairy cows can also be used; but doing so could result in an energy-versus-milk-production tradeoff.

  • John Kasprzak

    There is a U.S. patent for such a device held by Dr. Arlan Smith of McCall, ID which can have multiple units connected to a generator.