We've all heard of "cow tipping," the mean fraternity prank in which drunken college students go to a field and upend a bovine. But there's a kindler, gentler hot new trend involving cows that could be a big hit in Central New York towns like Saquoit, Marcy, Herkimer, Deansboro and Remsen.

Cow hugging. Yep, it's an actual thing. It's called "koe knuffelen" in Holland, and it's rooted in the healing properties of being near animals. A couple of obvious benefits of getting up close and personal with livestock are their warm body temperatures and slower heartbeats. It produces a calming effect.

There are a lot of farms in our region with cows that are probably just waiting to be hugged. It might even turn out to be a new revenue stream for the farms. Here are just a few that could launch this service as a way to soothe people's anxieties during the pandemic (and maybe earn a buck or two for themselves and/or charity):

  • Grassy Cow Dairy
  • Winters Grass Farm
  • Sunnybrook Farm
  • Mountain View Dairy
  • Kriemhild Dairy Farms
  • DeNitto Farms
  • Jones Family Farm
  • Finndale Farms

According to a report by People magazine, one farm owner in the Netherlands said:

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.

And it doesn't end with cows. This past summer, Lollypop Farm near Rochester teamed with the Humane Society there to offer Potbellied Pig Belly Rubs, calling the whole thing "a pretty pig deal."

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