The Truth About The Cows Who Are Living In The Matrix

Who's up for a crushingly depressive story with a dystopian, tech twist? Cool. We're going to tell you anyway.

So you know cows? And we don't mean those animals for whom the Amazon rainforest is torched to make room for farms devoted to humanity's insatiable meat-lust (as CNN summarizes). We mean the sweet, social creatures who make best friends and love accordions (per The Atlantic and a video from Rumble Viral posted on YouTube, respectively). The most natural thing for a cow to do is wander here and there, eat a bit of grass, hang out in the sun, and so on. It's not too tough. No training required. Just leave them alone. Certainly no VR headsets are needed.

What in the world do VR headsets have to do with grazing cows? It's certainly not because of a new, free-to-play, first-person empathy simulator on Steam. It's got much more to with bass-ackwards malignity that would make the cosmic horrors of Cthulu pause and say, "Yeah ... get me out of here. These humans aren't right in the head."

In a move that likely presages our own total departure into the Metaverse (don't be alarmed at the chill you just felt at that term — it's normal), dairy cows in Turkey are being deposited into a fairyland that mirrors the one they could walk through if they could only, you know, walk. Like outside. Instead, as sites like Kotaku illustrate, they're staring towards walls with pastures on the other side and animated portraits of pastures strapped to their faces. 

Enter the Mootrix

"We get an average of 22 liters of milk per day from the cows in our farm," Turkish farmer Izzet Kocak stated in a video posted to Twitter (translated into English on Futurism). "The milk average of the two cows [that] wore virtual reality glasses was up to 27 liters." The VR headsets show the cows images of, shall we say, "greener pastures," while the cows themselves stay in their pens and snuffle around the floor for food. 

If we look only at the bottom line, then the headsets do indeed seem to make the cows "less stressed" and give them "an emotional boost," as Kocak puts it. Kocak took the lead from similar ventures in Russia, where, as Interesting Engineering states, some dairy farms also play classical music. Other farms in Europe use "robotic systems" to allow cows to do what they do quite easily on their own: roam freely.

It's not shocking that money is the motivator here: productivity, liquidity, product viability, and all such top-hat-wearing, mustache-twirling baron-of-business stuff. As Imtilak Real Estate explains, agricultural land in Turkey goes for about $4,047 per acre. We can assume that farmers such as Kocak believe it's cheaper in the long-run to buy VR headsets to make cows happier (and therefore more productive) rather than buy them more space. 

The Verge reached out to the Moscow Ministry of Agriculture and Food in 2019, when the Russian version of the Mootrix first cropped up in pictures. They received no response.