Dutch wellness trend has people hugging COWS to fight stress

Udderly relaxing! ‘Cow cuddling’ wellness trend sees people visiting farms to snuggle cattle in an effort to reduce stress

  • The Dutch ‘koe knuffelen’ translates to ‘hugging cow’
  • People go to farms and spend several hours with cows, hugging them and leaning on them
  • Cuddling can reduce stress by releasing oxytocin
  • Cow cuddling can  be ‘incredibly soothing’ because the cows are big and warm and have a slower heartbeat
  • The trend follows several animal fitness classes like goat yoga and piggy pilates 

A growing wellness trend out of the Netherlands has people cuddling cows for comfort.

Called ‘koe knuffelen’ in Dutch — which translates to ‘hugging cow’ — the practice typically involves visiting a farm and spending several hours in the company of cows.

According to proponents of the trend, cow cuddling can be quite soothing thanks to the animal’s warm temperature and size, and the oxytocin boost it leads to can even reduce stress.

Isn’t this a-moo-sing? A growing wellness trend out of the Netherlands has people cuddling cows for comfort

Bovine besties! Called ‘koe knuffelen’ in Dutch — which translates to ‘hugging cow’ — the practice involves visiting a farm and spending several hours in the company of cows

Hugging cows, rubbing them, or leaning up against them can be ‘incredibly soothing’

According to the BBC, the Dutch trend is a form of self care that can bring ‘serenity’ to practitioners.

Hugging cows, rubbing them, or leaning up against them can be ‘incredibly soothing’ because the cows are big and warm and have a slower heartbeat. 

‘Cow cuddling is believed to promote positivity and reduce stress by boosting oxytocin in humans, the hormone released in social bonding,’ the BBC explains. ‘The calming effects of curling up with a pet or emotional support animal, it seems, are accentuated when cuddling with larger mammals.’

There are several farms in the Netherlands that offer the activity to visitors, including Koe Knuffelen in Voorst.  

‘With us you only have one task, namely just enjoy. Our lovely animals are relaxed, sweet, and they have a curious nature. They have warm and sincere attention for you with a body temperature of no less than 39 degrees [Celsius],’ reads their site in Dutch.

‘Cuddling a cow is a unique experience. It has been proven that the cow’s heartbeat has a relaxing effect on humans.’ 

The trend has started to spread, and is now also offered at Mountain Horse Farm in Naples, New York, which hosts a Horse & Cow Experience for $75 an hour.

‘It will be about finding a connection, getting close to the natural world, slowing down, taking time to take a breath, doing something new and exciting, finding peace & quietness and simply Be,’ explains the farm’s website. 

Prairie Conlon, a professional counselor and clinical director of CertaPet, told Yahoo that while it might seen ‘odd,’ it can also be ‘a healthy way to increase activity and get those endorphins flowing, so why not?’ 

‘I have seen lives changed using equine-assisted psychotherapy,’ she said. ‘This does not involve riding the horse, which is a common misconception. This involves spending time with and reflecting on the animals’ movements and behaviors.

‘As the cow is also a prey animal and has similar behaviors, I can absolutely see how it could be beneficial for therapy. Not to mention, cuddling with animals in general releases those “feel good” neurotransmitters.’

OXYTOCIN: THE ‘LOVE’ OR ‘CUDDLE HORMONE’ THAT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUST

Oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone’, engenders trust and generosity.

The chemical is released naturally from the brain into the blood of humans and other mammals during social and sexual behaviours.

It is produced by women during labour to help them bond with their baby, and stimulates the production of breast milk.

The chemical is also released during lovemaking, earning it the nickname ‘the cuddle hormone’.

Other loving touches, from hugging a teddy bear to stroking your pet dog, also trigger the hormone’s release.

Cow cuddling is just the latest in animal-related wellness trends.

Several years ago, goat yoga became all the rage, with fitness fans signing up for yoga classes in which goats walked around and might even climb onto a practitioner. 

Born in Albany, Oregon, classes have popped up in Dallas, Nashville, and Washington, DC. 

Farm owner Lainey Morse, who started the trend, came up with the idea while hosting a child’s birthday party on her property.

One mom told Morse she should think of holding yoga classes. ‘I said okay, but the goats have to join in,’ the farm owner told CNN. Morse organized her first goat yoga sessions last summer, and soon had 1,200 people on her waiting list.   

Several years ago, goat yoga became all the rage, with fitness fans signing up for yoga classes in which goats walked around and might even climb onto a practitioner 

Pennywell Farm in Buckfastleigh, Devon, introduced piggy pilates sessions for adventurous fitness buffs 

Armathwaite Hall hotel in Keswick, Cumbria, offers lemur yoga classes to guests

In 2019, Pennywell Farm in Buckfastleigh, Devon, began offering ‘piggy pilates’. During the 50 minute workout sessions, the miniature teacup piglets ‘run around like lunatics,’ nibbling at participants’ toes and playing around while gym bunnies plank.

Staff at the countryside farm have suggested the workout is ‘incredibly popular,’ and one woman reportedly claimed to enjoy the workout ‘more than her wedding day.’

Finally, Armathwaite Hall hotel in Keswick, Cumbria, England started offering yoga classes with lemurs last year.

The lemurs, from Lake District Wild Life Park, are able to wander around the mats and climb over yogis during the Lemoga lessons.

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