You've probably used a Virtual Reality (VR) headset at one time or the other, but what you may not know is, dairy cows are now using one as well. In a Moscow farm, an experiment was conducted to see how VR headsets can improve the mood and milk production of cows. And it seems to have worked!
VR Headsets Just for Cows
The latest trend in technology is the use of VR headsets on cows. While that may sound a bit outrageous, it's true. An experiment was conducted in one of the largest farms in Moscow, Russia. Here, VR headsets were modified to fit the structural features of a cow's head. The red, green, and blue tones of the VR headset were also modified to be pleasing to the cow's eyes, and a simulated summer field was shown through the headset.
The result of the experiment shows that the VR headset was able to reduce cows' anxiety and boosted their sentiment. Also, it increased the animals' level of milk production. On the other hand, while the relaxed state of mind of these cows has been attributed to the experiment, a finger is yet to be placed on the actual reason for their increased milk production. Nonetheless, it has still been linked to the improved environment which the cows were made to see.
According to a press release by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the Moscow Region:
"Environmental conditions have a significant impact on cow health and, as a consequence, the quality and quantity of milk produced."
Thus, it is believed that happier cows produce more, better quality milk. And improved cow conditions could also help to alleviate these animals' negative emotions.
Experiment to Improve Milk Production
The news of the VR test on cows began to circulate after a press release by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the Moscow Region. A translated version of the publication revealed that the emotional state of cows could be improved using IT technologies - and it could as well be VR headsets.
"In addition to physical needs, researchers began to pay more attention to the emotional state of animals. Examples of dairy farms from different countries show that in a calm atmosphere, the quantity, and sometimes the quality of milk increases markedly." the publication read.
Publicity Stunt or Real Experiment?
Further, the publication stated that VR designers, in collaboration with veterinarians and consultants, customize the VR headsets for the cows. In this case, a prototype of virtual reality glasses was made to fit the cows' head and vision. The headset was also made to simulate a real field that is more appealing to cows' eyes, over the regular fields they have always known. There are also plans to proceed with the experiment, it noted.
On the contrary, part of the press outlined that a follow-up discussion on "The introduction of modern technologies in dairy production" will be carried out in the VI International Agro-Industrial Dairy Forum. As such, critics have been quick to point out that news about the cow's use of VR headsets is in a bid to get attendees to the meeting. Despite this, it is still uncertain why the test was carried out, even though it was significant enough to get the attention of news outlets.
Other Tests on Farm Animals Using IT Technologies
Nonetheless, this is not the first of its kind experiment with the use of modern technology in Agriculture. For instance, robotic systems are being used in Europe, enabling cows to roam freely on the farm.
There's also a reported case of facial recognition being used on pigs to determine their emotional state. The experiment, which was conducted at Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) Pig Research Centre in Penicuik, Midlothian, is expected to improve the animal's well being. In this case, the animal's expression will be monitored to help farmers determine if they are distressed or not.
Featured Image by Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the Moscow Region.