by , 03/20/07

Cow Manure, Cow Poo, Manure material, recycled manure, manure design material, eco-friendly materials, green materials, cow poo fiberboard, cow patty particle board

While some may look at cows as sources of meat, dairy, or leather, researchers at Michigan State University have found a more sustainable (and abundant!), yet equally useful bovine by-product: you guessed it, manure. Surprisingly, the material, when sterilized, is entirely odorless and offers some wonderful characteristics for the production of a variety of fiberboard building materials. The manure essentially replaces the role of sawdust in the production of particle boards, which would cut wood usage as well as posing a creative solution to the huge problem of agricultural waste disposal (1.5 to 2 TRILLION tons of you-know-what per year!)

The Michigan State experts say that the cowpies’ fibers are even stronger and more self-binding than their wooden counterparts. Who knew such a stinky and (rightfully) overlooked material could be so useful! Now that’s what we call “green.”

Cow Manure, Cow Poo, Manure material, recycled manure, manure design material, manure 2

While we love the idea of using cow manure as the basic ingredient, we do have some concerns about the continued use of chemical resins as the binding agent. We’d love to see some alternative ideas so that the end product might be as green as possible. On the plus side, due to the sheer abundance of the raw materials, costs of production are literally dirt-cheap. The Michigan State researchers are currently continuing their research and development of the cow manure fiberboards thanks to a grant from the Michigan Biomass Energy Program.


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  1. The Internet March 2, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    New developement? The Zulus have been doing in for centuries!

  2. kankam kofi April 3, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    I dont hate the rediscovery of these students in MSU. Hence I would be quick to say that many villages around the globe have used this piece of material for building as some have noted. Africa not excluded where I originate. But I edge all of us to put our ideas together to make our planet safe as we it is being degraded each passing day.

  3. govinda December 17, 2009 at 2:30 am

    These techniques have been around for centuries-India/Asia….and now re-discovered in USA!

    There should be no patent……all free knowledge…’s actually easy…

    plse protect cows!Our mothers!

  4. gary segal September 6, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Please can some one help me I am looking for the method on making these cow Dug floors I would greatly appreciate if someone can help me
    Greetings from Africa

  5. kim July 29, 2007 at 4:40 am

    My 11 year old son is writing a speech on global warming & we were researching the effects of cows on the environment. Whilst surfing we found your article & think it is a fantastic advance in for the disposal of cow poo. Keep up the good work & hope that one day all particle board is made using it.

  6. Stef April 2, 2007 at 10:18 am

    Does anyone know how the floors are made ?

  7. Dan Wodarcyk April 1, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    The even greater breakthrough will be when the resins are eliminated, but important work nonetheless.

  8. Stef March 30, 2007 at 10:20 am

    Fantastic innovation – curiuos to know if the process is PATENTED ?

  9. Eduardo Athayde March 23, 2007 at 10:50 am

    We are interested to partner with MSU for researches and experiments on “Eco floors from cow poo”, specially with green biding agents.
    Eduardo Athayde
    UMA-Atlantic Forest Open University
    Worldwatch Institute – Brazil
    phone 55-71-81811695

  10. Nitin March 22, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    In buffalo and cow dung cakes have been used for generations as fuel. It is also used in India as a surfacing material and actually is very pleasant, cool in the hot summers.

  11. Bill March 22, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    I found a product called ‘Bovine Board’ several years ago. I don’t belive it is still in development. I have recieved a sample, from Iowa State University. I’d check the CV of the lead prof. at MSU. Maybe the same person?

  12. Lee March 21, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Richie, you better check some facts, Feeding cattle feed containing Cattle is illegal( that how mad cow spreads). Using manure is probable older then domestic cattle every thing from fertilizer, fuel, those little flower potts and as Ali points out houses. I thinks it great that these students have made a flooring product or would you rather use just leave the manure in a big toxic pool that seeps into the cattle’s water supply.

    As for the MSU students “inventing”, I think they mean the process of sterilizing and forming the planks not, the idea of using manure. Me personally living a hollow pile of cow manure falls in the gross idea pile. sterilization would make it more then acceptable.

  13. Ali March 21, 2007 at 11:32 am

    I find it silly that these MSU students are being heralded as great inventors and forward-thinkers when cow manure has been the primary building material for many indigenous villages around the world for centuries. Villages of India use cow manure as the primary building material: forming walls, floors and roof binders. Many American visitors to the villages were appalled, but now that an MSU grad “invented” it, their perceptions have changed?

    I find this sort of proclamation of achievement arrogant.

  14. Eric March 21, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Richie, I am all for the ethical treatment of animals, but taking their feces and making it into viable building materials is an excellent if not astonishing development. I mean, regardless of what they eat, they are still going to poop, and that poop could one day be the wall of someones house. No need to shed negative light on a development that in no way affects the animals well being.

  15. Richie March 21, 2007 at 8:42 am

    Where do we draw the line ? As William Burroughs said in ‘Naked Lunch’, if Aliens came to our planet and observed us… they’d see us as the ‘Cow parasites’. So finding commercial uses for their dung just seems like a continuation of the ‘Bad karma’ trip we’re on with cows. We don’t grass feed most of them, which is how they’d graze in nature. Instead, we feed them cheap cooked grains laced with super high does of antibiotics and ‘rendered’ cow parts. Then we keep female cows pregant and take away their babies at birth so that they mourn their loss. Male cow babies are put in the dark in small crated in enclosures, so that they become veal. This is just a brutal and sad state of affairs. And now we’ve found a way to even ‘parasite’ their dung ? Great. Just great.

    We can do better. Lets ease up on the cows, pigs and fowl. Why don’t we back off of the perspective of them being ‘products’ to be ‘havested’ as completely as possible ? And if we’re going to be so complete in our ‘use’ of their once living bodies… why do we discriminate ? Why don’t we take this approach to Human bodies as well ? That is to say why don’t we get real and use Human Milk instead ? And why don’t we use Human Flesh for ‘Leather’ ? I mean, why WASTE ANYTHING ? That’s not ‘Green’ right ?

    We reap what we sow. If we create so much death and suffering amongst animals… how can we be surprised if we experience so much misery in our own experience of the world ? We get back what we put forth, or program into, the multiverse. So what will it be ?

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