It’s game on with Norco
Norco has entered the augmented reality universe with Cow’s Play — a gamified approach to educating kids on where their milk comes from and the important role animal wellbeing and enrichment has in producing great tasting milk.
With research revealing that one in four Aussie children aged five to 12 think their food originates from a supermarket shelf, the immersive Cow’s Play game aims to keep Norco’s virtual cows — Elle and Belle — happy through different forms of enrichment while delivering fun and engaging dairy facts.
A dairy category first, the augmented reality Cow’s Play game is today’s answer to the collectables of the past and can only be played by scanning the QR code on specially marked Norco labels on their two- and three-litre Full Cream and Lite milks, and two-litre Lactose Free Full Cream milk between August and November.
Commercial and strategy general manager Ben Menzies said Norco was always striving to ensure the co-operative remained at the forefront of dairy industry innovation.
“We have a highlighted focus on technology and product innovation, whilst supporting important dairy industry initiatives and driving consumer interest and demand,” he said.
“Our community of 280 dairy farmers have been raising the healthiest and happiest herds since 1895, and our farmers know that being at the forefront of animal enrichment is key to producing the tastiest, most nutritious milk.
“We felt utilising technology in the form of augmented reality gamification to educate our youngest consumers on where their food comes from, was a way of creating and sharing educational content in a fun and contemporary way.
“As the number of dairy farms continue to decline in Australia, we believe this platform enables our next generation of consumers to feel connected to where their food comes from, and more importantly connected to the hard-working Australian dairy farmers that play an integral role in nourishing Australian families every day.”
The importance of cows playing
Following research from University of New England, presented by PhD student Emily Dickson at the Dairy Research Foundation Symposium last November, dairy farmers have become increasingly curious about how to provide enrichment to promote better welfare for their herds.
According to Ms Dickson, enrichment promotes positive welfare which may have flow-on effects for milk production in dairy cows.
Moreover, environmental enrichment aims to increase the complexity of an animal’s environment, allowing it to explore the range of behaviours it can perform.
Ms Dickson said improving animal welfare through environmental enrichment is increasing but fundamental research to quantify the benefits and impact needs to be improved.
Norco dairy farmers Scott and Renae Connell are putting playful aspects of cow enrichment to the test with the integration of ball games and intervals of play time for their herd.
Bringing Norco’s Cow’s Play program to life on-farm, the Connells are actively monitoring the positive impacts of ball playtime on their herd, a precursor to any further research studies on cow enrichment undertaken in Australia.