Farmer Johann Huber presents his cow, Doris, in a diaper, in Gmund am Tegnersee, Germany Photo: EPA/MARC MUELLE

Diapers on cows: A water quality solution?

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

Here in Ohio, we are talking about water quality and nutrient management on the farm on a daily basis. Farmers are making a very conscious effort to better their practices on the farm to tackle an issue that affects the quality of the water that their own families and their neighbors downstream drink. Although the topic is one of importance for the state’s ag industry, it is also a topic that is being addressed in Europe.

Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, a Bavarian farmer has gone to great lengths to prove a point. According to The Telegraph, Bavarian farmers are angry that their famous Alpine dairy cows will apparently have to wear nappies (diapers) under European Union environmental laws.

Johann Huber, whose family has farmed on the mountain slopes of Gmund am Tegernsee for over 400 years, has begun putting home made nappies on his 18 diary cows to avoid falling afoul of an EU fertilizer ban.

Huber said that his cow Doris had behaved well when he fitted her with a homemade bovine nappy to prevent her dropping cow pats on the Alpine slopes.

“We have no standard nappies, they have not been developed commercially yet,” he said.

The Bavarian farm union is protesting against the EU nitrates directive that, they claim, has led to a ban on fertilizers, or the manure left behind by their cows, on any mountain slope with a gradient of more than 15%.

Read more about the EU ban and how the new law is being given a second look (just like some of the diaper-laden cows are) in the full article in The Telegraph.


  1. I kept looking for an indication that the article was satire, but I didn’t find it. So what does the farmer do with the diaper when it is full? Send it to a landfill? Dump the contents on the ground? Flush it?

    A well run dairy farm is the perfect ecological circle: The land is used to produce hay and straw, silage and grain for the cows. The cows produce milk and are a source of meat. Cow manure and bedding is spread back on the fields to enrich the soil with organic matter and nutrients.

    Large operations have special challenges finding enough land for their manure, but the manure can be dried and sold as fertilizer for those that need it, providing additional income for the operation.

    “Cow diapers” will be considered as soon as all cat and dog owners do the same for their pets.

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