A wellness trend that hails from the Netherlands has become the latest self-care method that people are turning to. Called "koe knuffelen," which translates to "cow hugging," this practice is centered around the concept of healing human-to-animal snuggling.1
While this wellness practice is found all over the world, including Australia and Switzerland, a few places in the U.S. have also started offering a cow cuddling service of some kind. Most notably, Mountain Horse Farm in upstate New York has a program called the Horse & Cow Experience (60 min./$75 for 2 people; $125 for 4 people), which allows guests to connect with barnyard animals t petting, brushing, playing and cuddling.2
Apart from getting some nice snuggles in, these cow cuddling sessions are also supposed to help people pause and appreciate life. Part of the experience is the time it allows people to take a breath, slow down and find peace and tranquility, which is why each cow cuddling session at the Mountain Horse Farm starts with breathing exercises before they even go see the cows.4
The real advantage of cow cuddling comes down to the therapeutic benefits of physical touch. Scientists discovered that hugs can shut down stress responses in the brain, which then lowers the stress hormone cortisol in the body.3 It has also been shown that cow cuddling increases oxytocin, which is the hormone released during social bonding.1
Now, the question remains why cows? They have warmer body temperatures and a slower heart rate than humans. Certain cultures, including ancient Egyptians and Hindus, have also associated cows with nurturing and motherly qualities.3
A 2007 study showed that cuddling is enjoyable for the cattle as well. Cows have demonstrated cues of deep relaxation, stretching out and allowing their ears to fall back when cuddled and massaged.
If you're into some furry snuggles, then don't miss out on this wellness trend!