This therapeutic service is based on the healing properties that come with being close to animals, especially cows.
After the aww-evoking wellness trend of goat cuddling comes another one -- cow cuddling. This time around, it has residents in the Netherlands obsessed with the new fad of hugging cow, also known as "koe knuffelen" in Dutch. Apart from improving your mood instantly, this therapeutic service is based around the healing properties that come with being close to animals, in this case, cows. According to a BBC report, this typically entails hugging the cow (just as the name suggests), resting on it for hours, and "taking advantage" of the animal's warm body temperature, its large size, and slower heartbeat.
Although this practice originated from the Netherlands, in recent days, farms from Switzerland to the United States have begun offering these stress-relieving activities. In the Netherlands, one farm owner claims to have been welcoming visitors for hugging cows for nearly 14 years. "Cows are very relaxed animals, they don’t fight, they don’t get in trouble," she said of the relaxing service in a BBC video. "You come to the fields and we have some special hugging cows and you can lay next to [them] — people think it's very relaxing." Sharing their experience of this unique exercise, one visitor said, "I am born in a city so I am very fond of being in nature with animals. The cows are very patient, very sweet."
This interaction not only benefits humans but also relaxes the cows as well. A 2007 study published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science revealed that cows "show signs of pleasure and relaxation when people rub, massage, or pet them." Researchers added that "this knowledge could be of interest for an improvement in the quality of human–cattle interactions." So, if you're looking to indulge in this quiet and comforting activity away from the tedious hustle-bustle of city life, then head to Mountain Horse Farm in New York.
if i die from getting crushed while cuddling with a cow i won’t even complain pic.twitter.com/wsGJWybOKa— taylor (@taykrobinson) June 20, 2019
The farm in upstate New York offers allotted sessions where you can cuddle cows and enjoy a very comforting and heartwarming experience. The wellness retreat center concentrates on giving you an experience custom-tailored to your preference. "Cows have a body temperature that is slightly higher than humans and their heart rate is lower than ours. Cuddling up with a cow, feeling that lower heart rate and higher body temperature, is very relaxing," reads the website.
Described as "a unique way of connecting, interacting, getting close, playing, learning, sharing space, finding wellness and having fun with our herd of horses and cows," the farm offers a unique Horse & Cow experience which is unlike any other. It also has a "Lodging-Wellness-Horses-Retreat," and does not involve riding horses. "All interactions are done on the ground and no prior experience is necessary", according to the website.
Dubbed “koe knuffelen” in Dutch (literally “cow hugging”), the practice is centred on the inherent healing properties of a good human-to-animal snuggle. Cow cuddlers typically start by taking a tour of the farm before resting against one of the cows for two to three hours.— INDIANO (@DrIndiano) October 13, 2020
It also provides an opportunity for farm-animal lovers that "can bring relaxation, healing, awareness about your body language, comfort, mindfulness, build assertiveness, help with overcoming fear, build confidence, lets you be playful and teaches you to set boundaries." Through their "equine-assisted learning and wellness sessions", the Mountain Horse Farm helps "people suffering from stress, anxiety, grief and loss, as well as personal development sessions to improve skills to set boundaries and build assertiveness."
As per the information provided on the website, the visitors are allowed to pet these furry animals by brushing their hair and playing with them. "Spend quality time with our cows and miniature horses: brushing, petting, playing, sharing space or snuggling up to the cows while they are lying down," reads the website. The cost for a 60-minute cow session for two people is $75 and an additional $50 for a total of 4 people for the same duration.