Cow Hugging is a New Trend!

This Dutch wellness trend has real mental health benefits.

Oct 31, 2020


Cow Hugging is a New Trend! | This Dutch wellness trend has real mental health benefits.

In these tumultuous times, self-care is extremely important. That’s why ancient practices like yoga and forest bathing are being practiced around the globe. Now, a wellness trend from the Netherlands, cow hugging, is also gaining ground.

Cow hugging? Yes that‘s right. Cow hugging or koe knuffelen in Dutch is centered on the healing practices of people-to-animal snuggling according to the BBC.

While the stress reducing value of petting and hugging pets like dogs and cats are well known. Not much is known about the benefits of hugging farm animals like cows. But the proponents of cow hugging say it works the same way, by boosting oxytocin, the hormone that is released in social bonding.

The trend began in rural areas of the Netherlands around ten-years ago, according to the BBC, and is now part of a wider movement to bring people back to nature. Today, farms in Friesland, in other parts of the country, Europe, and even the US are offering bovine cuddling sessions.

The sessions usually begin with a tour of the farm before the huggers choose a cow and rest up against it for two-to-three hours. The cow’s warmer body temperature, slower heartbeat, and large size makes this a pleasant experience. Rubbing the animal and receiving cow licks makes it even better.

A 2007 study in the scientific journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science shows that cows show deep relaxation when massaged in particular areas of their necks and upper backs so the affection benefits both the person and the cow.

One farmer, José van Stralen,who runs a farmsurvival in Spanbroek, Netherlands began offering cow hugging six years ago according to The Insider. He told Insider: “You can read in their body language that when they half close their eyes with their ears down, sometimes even lying their heads down on the person's lap that they are quite relaxed. 

“It's a positive energy exchange. The person cuddling the cow becomes relaxed by being next to the cow's warmer body  and sometimes even manages to follow their heartbeat. It's a win-win situation and great experience for both.

Cow hugging farms are actually a lucrative business. A farm in Naples, New York charges $75 an hour per couple according to The New York Times. But to make sure, the cows, named Bonnie and Bella, live a normal life, there are only two sessions a day.

Each session is overseen by one of the owners and an additional handler to judge the cow’s mood and to make sure that each encounter is safe and positive.

Maybe it is time to consider cows therapy pets too. So, moo-ve over dogs and mini horses, you have some pretty large competition.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.