Interesting research has enabled farmers do the unthinkable, but a rather interesting one as farmers now makes their cows wear VR glasses to increase milk production. A Farmer from Turkey said he is simulating green pastures on virtual reality headsets to reduce the cows’ stress to have them produce more milk.
İzzet Koçak said his family has been in the agriculture industry for three generations and that he cares for more than 180 cows. In addition to having his cows wear VR headsets, Koçak also has the cows listen to classical music to keep their stress levels.
Izzet Kocak, the cattle farmer from Aksaray, Turkey, has fitted his cows with virtual reality (VR) goggles to trick them into thinking it is summertime and they see green pastures. This concept was inspired by a similar experiment in Moscow over two years ago that showed cows become happier and produce more milk. The Sun reported that Kocak’s method was effective and increased milk production from 22 liters to 27 liters a day. Izzet said that watching green pastures gave his cows an emotional boost and reduced their stress and anxiety.
VR Headset Improves Overall Mood in the Herd to increase milk production
Izzet said that he had previously used classical music to calm his 180 cows, but so far, he is very impressed with the VR headset results. He said that he has plans to buy ten more headsets due to the positive effects on his cows.
According to MailOnline, headsets were developed with veterinarians and were first tested on a farm in Moscow in 2019. Vets and consultants worked together with the farmers at Krasnogorsk farm to beam a simulation of a summer field to the cattle.
They molded a human VR headset to the specifications of the cow’s head while IT specialists tweaked its color palette that will work well with the animals’ vision. Although cows are not color blind, they cannot see red or green color because they can only perceive dull shades of yellow and blue.
The Ministry of Agriculture said that the Dutch and Scottish research showed environmental conditions could affect cow health and the quantity and quality of milk. Photos of the cows wearing the VR goggles received laughs on social media, mainly as many referred to the experiment as the cow version of the famous movie “The Matrix.”
Happy Cows Have Higher Calcium Levels
Dairy producers in California have always claimed that their products are superior because they came from “happy cows.” But what is the reason behind it?
A 2017 study titled “Elevation of Circulating Serotonin Improves Calcium Dynamics in the Peripartum Dairy Cow,” published in the Journal of Endocrinology, found that cows exposed to the hormone serotonin boosted happiness leads to producing milk with an increased level of calcium.
Science Daily reported that serotonin is a known hormone that lifts spirits, and daily exposure to cows improves their overall calcium level. The study involved two breeds of cows, the Holstein and Jersey cows, in which the former displayed increased blood calcium while the latter had increased milk calcium.
The boost in calcium levels is essential for the 5% to 10% of the American dairy cow population with low calcium levels, especially before female cows give birth.
The Farmer Koçak says, “We get an average of 22 liters of milk per day from the cows in our farm,” Koçak said in the video, which they translated into English. “The milking average of the two cows [that] wore virtual reality glasses was up to 27 liters.” and that he was influenced by a farm in Russia that fitted its cows with virtual reality glasses. In 2019, he wore the cows in Moscow with a prototype virtual reality headset that simulated green grass in an attempt to see if it could reduce their anxiety.
“They are watching a green pasture, and it gives them an emotional boost,” Koçak said. “They are less stressed.”
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the Moscow Region, this could be a potential solution for the current problems in milk production.
“Examples of dairy farms from different countries show that in a calm atmosphere, the quantity, and sometimes the quality, of milk increases markedly,” a statement said.
According to the ministry, data from Wageningen University in the Netherlands found that environmental conditions had a severe impact on the cows’ health, which increased the overall yield and quality of milk.
Koçak said he first tried the VR glasses on two animals and followed them around for two days. He told Anadolu Ajansi that his cow that gave 22 liters of milk produced 27 liters after wearing the glasses.
He also said the animals were less stressed and yielded higher quality milk. He said he contacted the company that produces the glass in Russia and ordered ten more pairs for his other cattle.
“Hopefully, if we are successful in all ten cows, we will order glasses from Russia for all of our herd,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the developers of the headsets collaborated with production consultants and veterinarians to reconstruct a pair of human VR glasses for the cow’s head shape.
The developers also referenced numerous studies of cattle vision, showing that cows perceive reddish tones better than greens and blues. With this knowledge, the VR architects built a unique field simulation program that makes the cows feel like they are out in the field