A Turkish farmer has started using a VR device experimented in Russia in 2019 that forces captive cows to produce more milk by tricking their senses. The device is put on the cows’ heads preventing them to use their eyes to look around them. Instead, they are forced to watch images produced by a computer. Izzet Koçak, the Turkish farmer, has said that he normally gets an average of 22 litres of milk per day from each of the 180 cows in his farm, but with the device, they now produce up to 27 litters. He said he now also uses acoustic devices to broadcast music, so the cows also have their auditory senses interfered with.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the Moscow Region, the prototype developed in 2019 could be a potential solution for the current problems in milk production (i.e. not enough milk per cow). Environmental conditions had a serious impact on the health of the cows, which may change the overall yield and quality of the milk. Therefore, the idea is that, by using a device that tricks the cows into believing they are in a different environment, the terrible effects of the horrendous conditions they are forced to live in the farms may be mitigated.
The researchers involved in the design of the devices, and the farmers that are trying them with real cows in farms, seem to believe the results have something to do with a reduction of stress — but this may just be a way to cope with the realisation of how unethical their activities may be. Izzet Koçak told the Turkish news Anadolu Ajansi that the device simulates various green pastures and the cows feel that they are outside. He did not explain how he knows what the cows feel, or the effect of the device on the cows when their calves are taken away from them at birth. It is not clear whether the farmer has used the device when the mother cows are desperately looking for their calves, or whether he plans to try similar devices for stressed calves when they are calling for their absent mothers (perhaps showing them an image of them). The lengths animal agriculture is prepared to go to combat humanity’s gradual shift towards the vegan world is astonishing.