November 26, 2019

VR for cows: Mooove over Oculus Rift, the cows are in town

By Harry Lye

A Russian farm has put virtual reality (VR) headsets on cows to see if they yield better milk. The experiment put cows in virtual summer fields to improve their emotional health.

As well as looking at the physical needs of the animals, researchers began to look at how technology could help dairy production.

As a result dairy farmers at one of Moscow’s largest farms partnered with IT specialists to look at how technology could play a role in aiding the animals mental wellbeing.

In a press release the Ministry of Agriculture and Food said: “During the first test, experts recorded a decrease in anxiety and an increase in the overall emotional mood of the herd. The impact of VR glasses on the milk production of cows will be shown by a further comprehensive study.

“While maintaining positive dynamics of observations, the developers intend to scale the project and modernise the domestic sphere of dairy production. (Sic)”

VR for cows: Enhancing dairy production

Although still in early phases the experiment is set to continue with the use of technology in the dairy production set to be further discussed at an upcoming agricultural forum in Russia.

The Ministry added that the use of VR goggles was the next step in technology to help milk production, citing the use of rotating brushes to massage cows in American dairy farms and Russian farms that play classical music as other technological approaches to better milk production.

The press release added: “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.”

In the experiment, the cows were kitted out with VR glasses designed for humans that were adapted to fit the “structural features” of the cow’s heads.

VR architects also designed a field simulation programme set during summer for the cows to explore. As a cow’s vision is less sensitive to blue and green than they are red, the images shown in the goggles were tailored to reflect this.

The idea behind the research is that cows that experience a positive experience have increased milk production.

Read more: Thanks to VR, it is now possible to “interview” your heroes

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