Visitors say they are travelling from across the country to enjoy the calming benefits of snuggling up to retired cows, as Rachel Townsend reports
Have you ever been tempted to hug a cow?
Me neither, until a visit to Dumble Farm. There, ‘cow hugging’ is being offered as a wellbeing experience. Two-hour sessions are being snapped up from herds of huggers across the country.
“A lot of people find it very relaxing to just sit with the cow, feeling it’s warmth and feeling it’s heartbeat. They are just so gentle,” farmer Fiona Wilson told us.
We joined Amy and Craig who had booked a cow hugging session as a birthday treat.
“It was amazing,” Amy says, “I’ve loved it. I suffer with anxiety and just being cuddled up to the cow makes you forget all of your worries. It’s been lovely, a really nice experience.”
The family-run farm in East Yorkshire was forced to sell much of its dairy herd last year after frequent floods saturated their fields. It was a tough decision for the Wilson family, who have dairy farmed here for 50 years. They had to find a way to make the farm viable - cow hugging was their new venture and it is proving a hit.
The farmers told me that the trick is to feed the cows a decent meal two hours before the cuddling experience. When they’re full, the cows slowly digest their meal and then take a lie down, providing the optimum opportunity for a cuddle.
An hour into the experience I felt confident enough to go in for a hug. I can’t deny the slow, rhythmic breathing of these dairy cows was calming. Equally, I wouldn’t fancy cuddling them for too long.
The dairy cattle at Dumble Farm went through five months of training and Fiona is keen to point out that not all cows should be cuddled.
“I don’t recommend you walking into a field and cuddling a cow," she says, "we’ve worked with these cows for a long time. We chose them because they are calm and they are genuinely quite affectionate.“
Sessions at Dumble Farm cost £40 and their popularity is exceeding all expectation. It has been a tough couple of years for farmers here, but the mood is one of optimism. Whether that is down to the cuddling cows, who knows.
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...