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Michigan students de-stress by spending time with cows

In this Dec. 5, 2018, photo, Michigan State University junior Deanna Blair hugs "Bunnie," an adult Holstein cow at the schools Dairy Cattle Teaching Research Center in Lansing, Mich. The farm offered students a unique way to de-stress while studying for finals. Ten dollars got them 30 minutes of cow brushing and petting time. (Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP)

By HALEY HANSEN
Lansing State Journal
AP Member Exchange
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The therapy dogs have competition.
With finals this month, Michigan State University students can unwind by spending quality time with the school’s dairy cows at the Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center.
Ten dollars gets 30 minutes of cow brushing time.
The event is called “Finals Stress mooove on out!” It’s the first time the center has done an event like it.
But farm manager Andrea Meade said cows make ideal therapy animals.
“They’re very calm, very sweet,” she told the Lansing State Journal . “It takes a lot to get them riled up. They’re like dogs.”
Zoology student Alicia Gamache became fast friends with a cow named Sunday. She’d visited the dairy barn because she was intrigued by the idea of getting close to animals she had only seen at school events and county fairs.
Sunday stretched out on her bed of hay as Gamache brushed her, ridding the Holstein of dust that had settled into her coat. Gamache tried to encourage her to roll over to her other side. Sunday was too relaxed to bother.
Gamache joked that she’d take a cow brushing class if MSU offered it.
“I miss my dog,” she said. “I miss interacting with animals.”
The brushing both keeps the cows clean and relaxes them, Meade said.
Some dairy farms have automated mechanical brushes, and, in some countries, such as Denmark, providing cows with access to resources that promote coat care is required by law.
As students visit the barn, Mead gives them pointers about how to not spook the animals and talks about the milking process. She answers questions about cannulas — a porthole-like device that gives researchers easy access to the first chamber of a cow’s stomach — and what happens when the cows stop producing milk.
Psychology senior Meryn Mostrom beamed as she wandered, brush in hand, through the barn with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend, Alex Lafler, surprised her by taking her to the event.