World's energy need could be met by cows on treadmills — wait, what?

William Taylor is a farmer in North Ireland who apparently doesn't let an idea — no matter how crazy — pass him by. To help alleviate the energy needs of his farm, he looked to his livestock, and somehow it clicked that he should put the whole lot of his cattle on treadmills and get them generating energy for him. He calls it his Livestock Power Mill and, according to the numbers he crunched, if over a billion of the world's cows were walking on similar devices for eight hours daily, it could account for a whopping sixth of the world's energy needs. We've been doing it all wrong!

But wait — how the hell do you keep a bunch of cows walking? Well, Taylor has thought of everything. He has the herd standing on an inclined, non-powered belt. Said incline makes sure that the cows have to keep walking and working a power-generating gearbox, though there's also a feed box to make sure the cows stay energized, too.

For the cows, it's actually not all that different from a normal day anyway, as the beasts can spend a good eight hours just walking around — this way, they're giving a little bit back while doing so. Taylor's system is just a prototype at the moment, but it'd cost a farm around $100,000 for a mill that could accommodate 50 cows (with each cow generating enough to power four milking machines). It's money well spent, according to Taylor, who says farms will make back the investment in no time.

Popular Science, via Inhabitat