The Internet Is Divided Over A Dairy Farmer's Matrix-Like Plan To Enhance Milk Production

For some time, scientists have been trying to determine if making cows happier can lead to improvements in milk production. Back in 2016, a study published in the Journal of Endocrinology found that treating cows with serotonin helped improve the calcium levels in some of their milk (via ScienceDaily). This finding was certainly of interest to dairy farmers, and, naturally, the investigation into the happy cow cause and effect hasn't stopped there.

One rancher has taken a more futuristic approach to improving his cattle's moods. According to The Sun, Turkish cattle breeder Izzet Kocak is outfitting some of his cows with virtual reality headsets. Through the headsets, the cows are shown a simulation that makes them think they are outside when they are actually being kept indoors due to severe cold weather. Many have likened it to a "The Matrix"-like experiment, and since there's no Morpheus (or should we say Moopheus?) to offer the cows a red pill (via YouTube), not everyone is on board with the idea.

Some see VR as a sad solution for cows

Rancher Izzet Kocak is already seeing the benefits from using the VR headsets. Kocak claims to have observed a 5-liter-a-day increase in milk production from his two "cybercows." "They are watching a green pasture and it gives them an emotional boost," he said, according to The Sun. While Kocak is tallying up the increase of milk from his dairy cows and focusing on buying and installing 10 more headsets, others are not so enthusiastic about the plan.

In the comments section of an opinion piece about the cow headsets on Kotaku — titled "The Metaverse Is Already Here For Cows And It's Very Sad" — readers shared their impressions. "Nobody realizes just how many problems occur in dairy farming due to long cold winters. The cows suffer psychologically, thats why their output lowers in the winters. They are locked in a prison..." wrote one concerned reader. One commenter, on the other hand, didn't think the whole scenario seemed so bad, writing, "I understand that this looks and sound bad, but if the cows are better off, why the hell would you not want this?" Meanwhile, a couple of observant readers pointed out that we may be headed down a slippery slope. "Like everything else, what seems like a good idea can head down a road we shouldn't take. If VR makes the cows less stressed during the winter, then why let them out of the barn in the spring?" posed one reader. For now, there's just no telling just how deep the rabbit hole can get on this one.