Need to Unplug and De-Stress? These Cows May Be Able to Help

Mountain Horse Farm offers guests the opportunity to engage in the Dutch stress-relief tradition of cow cuddling.

Stressed? Tired? Glued to your smartphone?

Maybe Bonnie and Bella, the resident cows at Mountain Horse Farm, can help. 

The farm, located in the Finger Lakes region of New York, offers guests the chance to disconnect from the world by cuddling with cows. Owner Suzanne Vullers said that the tradition comes from her native Netherlands, where it's known as koe knuffelen.

"It is not always that easy to quiet your mind and really be there and really be present, to really let go of that internal voice in your head that keeps talking to you," Vullers told "To really go quiet, it helps that there is this large animal there that is quiet herself and just a very relaxing presence to be with." 

Bonnie and Bella set the tone for the encounter, and guests are invited to just sit down and be with the gentle giants as they digest their food. Sitting with the cows is a form of mindfulness, Vullers explained, likening the experience to being a child immersed in play on the beach. 

"It makes you forget everything around you, it makes you forget you have to pay your bills or get your car fixed," she said. "It immerses you in that activity." 

The cow cuddling experience, which also includes the chance to hang out with farm's horses, starts at $75 per hour for two people or $125 for four people. It's offered a few times per week and is not a petting zoo. Guests interact with the animals by walking alongside them, which means "it's a choice for both to interact," she said. 

Cuddling the cows also gives people the chance to get to know their personalities. 

"Bonnie is the bravest animal we've ever had, she is not scared of anything. She's full of life and very playful," Vullers said, adding that she likes to play with the farm's dogs and mini-horses.

"Bella just loves to eat, that's her biggest joy in life," Vullers said. "I think she was an old soul, because she was born sweet and never was a rascal teenager or anything like that. She's always been very sweet and wanted to connect with people." 

Bella and Bonnie will spend the rest of their lives connecting with people after being adopted from a farm where they were being raised for slaughter. 

"Now their destiny is not going to be to go to the slaughterhouse, their destiny is going to be a long and happy life," Vullers said.