Farmer Using VR Headsets to Trick Cows Into Thinking They're Outside Part of Growing Trend

A farmer from Turkey said he is simulating green pastures on virtual reality headsets to reduce the cows' stress in an attempt 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 in order to keep their stress levels lowered.

He told Turkish news outlet Anadolu Ajansi he simulates various green pastures on the headsets so the cows feel that they are outside and is great for their mental wellbeing.

"We get an average of 22 liters of milk per day from the cows in our farm," Koçak said in the video which was translated into English. "The milk average of the two cows [that] wore virtual reality glasses was up to 27 liters."

Koçak said he was influenced by a farm in Russia that fitted its cows with virtual reality glasses. In 2019, the cows in Moscow were fitted 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 serious impact on the health of the cows which increased the overall yield and quality of milk.

Koçak said he tried the VR glasses on two animals at first 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 that they yielded higher quality milk. He said that he contacted the company that produces the glass in Russia and ordered 10 more pairs for his other cattle.

"Hopefully, if we are successful in all 10 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 which has shown 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 outside.

Cow grazing in field
A farmer in Turkey is utilizing VR headsets on his cows to reduce their stress after seeing a farm in Moscow doing the same. William West/AFP via Getty Images