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In 2020, Fox was at something of a low point and working remotely from a friend’s farm when he discovered the power of cow cuddles.

“I was spending a lot of time with the cows down in the paddock before and after work, and even on my lunch break, just to get some sort of contact with anyone at that point in time. And that was really helpful.”

Spending time with his friends’ Brahman cows began to shift his priorities.

“I had been working as a business strategist for most of my career and that was really taking a toll on my mental health.

“And I eventually got to the point where instead of taking breaks from that work to go spend time with the cows, I realised I needed to make spending time with the cows the work, and that’s when I sort of went down the path of looking into cow cuddling.”

When Fox found out his friends had plans to breed their cows, he stepped in.

“When I realised that was happening, and they weren’t just going to be pets anymore, I purchased the cows immediately and then had to look into what to do with them.

“I was friends with the cows, I had known them for years and had to kind of step in, and then I had to work out what to do with them after that.”

His original herd were named Amy, Ella, Holly, Sally, Sophia and Milkshake.

“Milkshake’s had a calf so a couple of them were pregnant when I purchased them … Milkshake had a calf Babychino and Holly had a calf Nushi (pronounced Nooshie).”

They are all “beautiful, beautiful girls” who love interacting with humans.

“Their body language shows that they do enjoy it very much, they’re basically like half-tonne puppy dogs, you can see that when you scratch them, they react, and they’ll roll over and want scratches on their belly.

“They’ll move their tail if you scratch at the base of their tail. So, you can tell that they enjoy it. They love it.”

Some local doctors are now prescribing visits to his cows, Fox tells Afternoons.

“[For] young children with autism spectrum disorder, ASD, a doctor actually prescribes cow therapy or equine therapy.

“We have no healthcare professionals providing anything, the cows are the therapists.”

Time spent with the cows gives these children a beneficial oxytocin release, he says.

“Those young children come onto the farm and don’t look at me, make eye contact or communicate most of the time. And after 10 minutes with the cows [they] are then talking to me, making eye contact, explaining what the cow’s thinking … and feeling that oxytocin release is just helping to build the ability for that child to build social connection both with the animal and in that instance with me or the staff there at the time.”

Other than the children with ASD, visitors are just people who love cow cuddles, he says, even some retired farmers.

“The majority of people from a single industry who are coming along and enjoying it are from a farming background from dairy, beef production, and they come along because they’ve spent a whole life working with these animals and loving them and then have perhaps retired, spent some time away and finally have an opportunity where they can come and spend time with animals that they love so deeply.

“I don’t know anyone who loves my cows as deeply as the farmers who come along and spend time with them do.”