Brave new world: why cows in Turkey are now wearing VR glasses
A Turkish farmer sends his cows to the virtual pasture. They thank him with more milk. Animal rights activists are still critical of the VR glasses.
Pastures that are never emptied, always green, always lush. This is a world that Izzet Kocak offers his cows – albeit as a simulation. Because the Turkish farmer tricks his cows. With virtual reality goggles, he pretends that they are not in a stable but in the open air. There is also music by Beethoven and Mozart for the ears. The animals seem to like it – they give liters more milk.
The animals would still be able to graze on the real pasture, but two cows will also be able to graze on the virtual pasture for a further 20 minutes a day. And it seems to be having an effect. The farmer reports that the milk production of the cows currently testing the VR technology has increased by five liters. But Kocak is not only interested in more milk, he also hopes for an increase in quality.
No alternative to the real meadow
Kocak’s herd of cows includes a total of 180 animals. He is currently testing the system on two of them. Three more animals are to be added in the coming weeks. His idea is not new. In Russia, the Ministry of Agriculture tested VR glasses on cows around two years ago.
At the time, the ministry referred to studies that had shown that cows, when they feel good and the atmosphere is calm and positive, produce more and better milk. And indeed, the Russian Ministry reported that the emotional mood of the herd in the test farms had increased. The VR glasses that Kocak uses also come from Russia.
Animal rights activists are critical of the concept. Ahmet Kemal Senpolat, head of Turkey’s animal rights group Haytap, warned that the method should not mean locking animals in cages. This is “torture” and a violation of animal rights.