Move over goat yoga — there’s a new animal wellness trend emerging from the Netherlands that may be just what the doctor ordered.
Cow hugging, known as "koe knuffelen" in Dutch, is based around the healing properties of being close to animals, specifically cows. It typically involves resting on and hugging cows for several hours, taking advantage of the animals’ warm body temperature, slower heartbeat, and large size, according to a report from the BBC.
Though the practice originated in the Netherlands, farms from Switzerland to the United States are starting to pick up on the trend. One farm owner in the Netherlands said she has been welcoming visitors for cow hugging for about 14 years.
"Cows are very relaxed animals, they don’t fight, they don’t get in trouble," she said in a BBC video about the stress-relieving activity. "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."
"I am born in a city so I am very fond of being in nature with animals," a visitor of the farm said. "The cows are very patient, very sweet."
In addition to helping humans relax and get in touch with nature, research suggests that cow hugging is good for the animals themselves, too.
A 2007 study published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science found that cows "show signs of pleasure and relaxation when people rub, massage, or pet them."
"This knowledge could be of interest for an improvement in the quality of human–cattle interactions," the researchers wrote at the time.
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