Is this another Russia hoax?
There’s a very easy explanation for all this: Russian farmers, outside of Moscow, have been fitting their cows with VR headsets in an attempt to increase milk production.
Yes, supposedly an elaborate experiment is being conducted in Russia—in which cows are equipped with VR headsets to reduce anxiety and increase milk production. (Dutch and Scottish researchers found that calm cows produce more milk.) The Russians are said to have worked with designers to create a VR environment to simulate greener pastures and a summer field.
How is all of this known?
Well, the Moscow Region of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food issued a press release, in Russian, stating all of this. The title of the press release, according to Google translate, reads: “On a Farm Near Moscow Tested VR Glasses for Cows.”
It goes on to say (via Google translate):
The global trend towards universal computerization greatly simplifies work processes in many areas, and allows achieving unprecedented results. Russian milk producers are not far behind world standards and are even ready to offer the market new and unexpected solutions.
A prototype of virtual reality glasses was tested on a farm in the Moscow Region to improve cow conditions.
Hmm? I’m a little skeptical. But if it’s true—cows wearing VR headsets—how flippin’ awesome is that!? And to think, at one time I was impressed by Keyboard Cat.
The VR goggles weren’t just grabbed off the shelf of the local Moscow Best Buy but specifically designed to fit the cow’s head shape (or cow-shaped head). Meanwhile, the VR-scape simulates a “unique summer field simulation program.”
Experts (in cow anxiety) noted a reduced anxiety and improved emotional mood in the herd that was adorned in VR goggles. And I am one who feels for cow anxiety; every day they must experience the loss of a friend or loved one who has been turned into steak and hamburgers.
A little skepticism here: According to Agricultural Safety and Health, cows have poor depth perception. Certain fence and gate configurations may challenge a cow’s depth perception, making it difficult to move the animal efficiently. And also making it difficult to design an efficient cow-orientated VR landscape. Moscow Times stated that cows perceive shades of red better than shades of green and blue, which helped researchers design an ideal cow simulated environment.
In the spirit of fair play, the VR world can take back their power from its moo-making friends by playing the virtual reality Cow Milking Simulator game.
Still, VR on animals is nothing new. Here’s what happened when someone fitted their dog with a VR headset, which garnered no less than seven million views, though the dog looks very, very anxious.
Russian farmers have also been noted to play classical music on loudspeakers around the farm to sooth cows’ anxiety.
Though, there only seems to be one photo out there of a particular cow on a farm wearing a VR headset, if it’s true that this is a method to relieve cow anxiety and gain a better quality of milk, then (get ready to laugh) that’s something to moo about.