Virtual reality for cows – Matrix meadows for more milk

With the help of VR glasses, Russian researchers are trying to convince dairy cows that they are standing on a green pasture to give more milk. Virtual reality is not only becoming more common for us humans. Russian researchers have started an experiment to see if the milk production of cows can be boosted by VR glasses. Sounds crazy but VR is by far more than just watching VR porn sites.

The experiment will take place in Krasnogorsk, near Russia’s capital Moscow. With the VR glasses, the researchers want to convey to the cows that they are standing on a summer pasture instead of in a dreary stable – some VR glasses were adapted to the head shape of the cows.

  • People can be led to believe that we are sitting in a roller coaster or flying like a bird.
  • And VR is becoming more and more popular with humans, especially as a replacement for simulators of all kinds.
  • It was allegedly also taken into account that cows perceive a different colour spectrum than we humans do in order to develop specialised software that presents the cows with a meadow that appears (allegedly) realistic to them.

Report from the Russian Ministry of Agriculture

The report from the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, on the other hand, does not indicate whether the VR glasses actually display the pasture for a VR perspective that changes according to the rotation of the head, or whether they only play automated images that are intended to make the cows think they are in a pasture.

It is already clear that the VR pasture seems to make the cows calmer. According to the researchers, the VR glasses help to calm the herd and the overall mood is more peaceful, despite the dense crowding in the barn.

A large-scale study comparing the milk production of cows with and without glasses both in winter and summer will show whether VR helps to boost milk production.

Politically motivated background

The background for this study is the growing demand for domestic milk in Russia. Because EU sanctions have reduced the supply of dairy products, Russia is investing more in domestic production.

New methods, such as virtual reality glasses for cows, are intended to increase domestic production. While some farms rely on classical music, other farms try more modern methods such as VR.

In any case, the Ministry of Agriculture expects “unprecedented results in milk production” and researchers are also speculating on a significant increase. It remains unmentioned whether and what side effects the use of VR causes in animals.