Koe Knuffelen: The Wellness Trend That Started In Holland

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Photo credit: Noord Empe farm

It’s not easy to pronounce, but apparently the deep relaxation results are well worth it.

Literally, koe knuffelen means “cow hugging” which at first may not sound quite as ‘oooohm’ as a lavender scented spa. But it’s actually more like cow leaning. For hours. 

Koe knuffelen is a self-care practice, which, like other oddities like wooden shoes and Stroopwafels, hail from the Netherlands. Koe knuffelen is centred on the inherent healing properties of human-to-animal contact and is touted to promote positivity and reduce stress by boosting oxytocin in humans, the hormone released in social bonding.

The cow’s warmer body temperature, slower heartbeat and large size makes hugging them an incredibly soothing experience, and giving the animal a head rub or even getting licked is all part of the therapeutic experience.

According to the BBC, cow cuddlers in the Netherlands first take a tour of the cattle farm before resting against one of the cows. And the snuggle isn't meant to last just a minute or two – cuddlers can sit and nuzzle up to cows for as long as two to three hours.

This wholesome pastime emerged in rural Dutch provinces more than a decade ago, the BBC reports. Now, it's part of a wider movement in Europe to bring people closer to nature and country life. The wellness phenomenon has even made its way across the pond, with a 33-acre retreat in upstate New York allowing guests to cuddle with their cows and other animals. 

Is it as much fun as cow tipping in the middle of the night? A question to be pondered while you hug your heifer.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.



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