On the other side of the mirror: Last week, Turkish media reported that a farmer was trying to use virtual reality headsets to reduce anxiety in his cows and increase milk production. The method was inspired by what Russian farmers started doing a few years ago.
State-run Anadolu agency reports that İzzet Koçak tried to install VR headsets on two of his cows. Koçak performed a simulation of a summer field while playing classical music so that the cows forgot to be densely packed in a barn.
To adapt human-sized helmets to cows, Koçak used one on each eye. After about 10 days, they gave more and better quality milk. We went from 22 liters to 27 liters of milk.
The idea came from farmers in Moscow who in 2019 carried out a similar test. Muscovite farmers have cooperated with virtual reality developers to make helmets uniquely designed to fit cows and field simulations developed to fit the vision of cows, which is different from how humans see.
Koçak plans to take his experience to a trial phase by ordering enough Moscow helmets for 10 cows. If that works, he plans to use VR on all of his cows.
On the one hand, it can improve the mental well-being of farm animals – studies have shown that their emotional state can affect their health and milk production. On the other hand, it might just be a band-aid on top of the larger problem of how these animals are treated on factory farms.
It recalls the United Kingdom of 2012 proposal to raise unconscious chickens that don’t know they are being raised in densely packed warehouses. Similarities could also be drawn between virtual reality cow simulations and the plot of the Matrix movies in which humans are kept in a simulated world so that machines can recover their body heat.