According to The sun, the farm in question is in Turkey, where the cattle breeder Izzet Kocak puts his cows in the Mootrix, so to speak. Kocak has 180 cows under his wing, but does not subject them all to daily virtual reality sessions, as so far he has only used headsets (HMD) on two cows. So far, the results have been promising, he says. “They are looking at a green pasture and it gives them an emotional boost. They are less stressed. The Sun reports that lowering the stress level of the cows in question allowed them to increase their milk production from 22 liters to 27 liters. Kocak plays classical music for his cows who still live in the real world, but says the VR experience was so successful that he plans to purchase 10 more headsets in the future.
Kocak didn’t have the idea of transporting cows to a virtual pasture compared to the harsh reality of being locked in a chicken coop inside a barn. According to News week, in 2019, a farm near Moscow, Russia fitted a cow with a prototype helmet that simulated green grass, and the project was a bit more complicated than it first appears. According to a Press release On this subject of the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the effort was an elaborate collaboration. “The developers of the virtual reality studio, in collaboration with veterinarians and production consultants, have adapted human VR glasses to take into account the peculiarities of the structure of the cow’s head,” the statement read.
What’s interesting here is that Kocak’s cow clearly carries two devices, so maybe a new prototype, or just a kludge using existing technology. The press release continued: “Based on numerous studies on the vision of cattle, showing better perception by cows of reddish tones and less greens and blues in cows, the VR architects also created a simulation program of unique summer terrain. In other words, IT people couldn’t just show the cows the Windows XP wallpaper; it’s custom software that takes into account the way cows see the world.
According to the Russian ministry statement, researchers around the world have studied the effects of “environmental conditions” on cow happiness, with a Dutch university showing a direct correlation between the cow environment and both quantity and quality of milk produced. As examples of common practice, he notes that in America, cows have rotating brushes installed in their pens, so they can be “massaged,” and in Europe, robots control various gates and fences to allow cows to have more freedom to move around. He says that in Russia the most common method of calming cows was the aforementioned playing of classical music.
We’ve written before that the slow adoption of VR has never allowed the technology to mainstream due to several factors including price, amount of space needed, and lack of much needed titles. However, we didn’t ignorantly factor in this new “mootaverse” of dairy cows, and we were admittedly human-centric in our estimates of future use cases for the technology. We regret the error.