Virtual reality (VR) headsets strapped onto cows to simulate greener pastures made the animals less anxious, happier, and produced more milk, claims a Turkish farmer who got the high-tech idea from a project conducted in Russia.
Third-generation farmer Izzet Koçak, who founded his business with 180 cattle in Aksaray in 2018, makes his cows listen to classical music on top of the implemented developing technology in their care to increase milk production.
He notes that among the reasons for looking for an alternative way in animal husbandry is the increased prices of animal feed and hay.
Though the results from the Russian project had yet to yield better milk, according to a report from Engadget, they did yield happier cows by simulating a green pasture for its cows.
But it’s not on the cows that are happier since according to Koçak, who claims the technology gives his cows an emotional boost and makes them less stressed, the milk average of the two cows he strapped to VR was up to 27 liters, compared to the average of 22 liters of milk per day from the other cows in his farm.
This shows a 22.7% daily increase in milk production in VR-strapped cows.
Research that Wageningen University in the Netherlands has conducted also confirms this finding that happiness led to healthier cows, and, subsequently, to improved milk quality and amounts.
If the early findings of his trials prove to be replicable, the milk of the future could be produced on VR dairy farms.
VR technology, according to dairy industry boosters, could represent an economic and environmental shift for the dairy industry by allowing increased milk yields with less land and resources, which is both economically and environmentally feasible.
On top of the need of more research into long term effects of VR on cows, some have experts also raised concerns over using untested technology while green pastures still exist, likening the practice to some dystopian future.