Virtual reality helping make cows happy and more productive

Photo courtesy Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the Moscow Region

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.

One of these is a prototype of virtual reality glasses recently tested on cows at a farm in the Moscow Region to improve cow conditions.

Technological progress as an effective production tool

The combination of many years of experience and technology is the key to sustainable development of the industry. To solve pressing problems in milk production, experts are increasingly being involved not only in specialized fields, but also specialists in the field of IT technologies.

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.

American farmers install automatically rotating brushes in the stalls, which replace the masseur’s cows. In Europe, they use robotic systems to ensure maximum free movement of livestock on the farm. Russian farmers in the Moscow region have installed sound equipment for broadcasting classical music, the relaxing effect of which positively affects milk output.

Employees of one of the largest farms in the Moscow region, together with IT experts, decided to conduct an experiment, having studied the effect of virtual reality, and developed a mock-up of VR glasses.

Foreign studies confirm the importance of domestic development

According to an analysis of the welfare of dairy cattle by Wageningen University employees in the Netherlands, environmental conditions have a significant impact on cow health and, as a consequence, the quality and quantity of milk produced. These findings are also confirmed by researchers from Scotland’s Rural College. Based on interviews with farmers using various systems to improve livestock welfare, a relationship was formulated between the positive, including emotional, experience of cows and the positive effect on milk production.

The processes must take into account not only the form, but also the content

The developers of the virtual reality studio, in cooperation with veterinarians and consultants from the production team, adapted human VR-glasses taking into account the structural features of the head of cows. Based on numerous studies of cattle’s vision, showing cows better perception of the shades of the red part of the spectrum and weaker green and blue tones, the architects of virtual reality also created a unique program for simulating a summer field.

Technology improvements should affect the industry as a whole. 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 the positive dynamics of observations, the developers intend to scale the project and modernize the domestic sphere of dairy production.

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