A game based on cows playing with a giant ball is helping to teach children about dairy.
Australia's largest co-operative Norco developed the game, which children can access by scanning a QR code on specially marked Norco bottles of milk.
The game took inspiration from Norco dairy farmers Scott and Renae Connell, Dorrigo, NSW, who have introduced ball games to their herd in a bid to provide enrichment and improve animal welfare.
Norco's Cows Play game is played on a phone or tablet and uses augmented reality to put playful cartoon cows, Elle and Belle, in the middle of the room or garden where the child is using it.
In one of the games the aim is to have the cow kick the ball to score points.
When the child 'wins' a round, they are presented with a video-graphic with information about the dairy industry.
Other games will feature different forms of cow enrichment.
The promotion runs from August to November and was launched at Queensland's Ekka agricultural show in August.
Norco's general manager commercial and strategy Ben Menzies said Norco strived to remain at the forefront of dairy industry innovation.
"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," he said.
"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."
University of New England PhD student Emily Dickson presented research about the benefits of enrichment at the Dairy Research Foundation Symposium in November.
Enrichment promoted positive welfare, which might have flow-on effects for milk production in dairy cows, she said.
Environmental enrichment aimed to increase the complexity of an animal's environment, allowing it to explore the range of behaviours it could perform.
Dairy farmers Scott and Renae Connell have been testing this idea by introducing introducing playful aspects of cow enrichment to their herd.
This includes integrating ball games and intervals of play time for their herd.
The Connells are monitoring the positive impacts of ball playtime, as a precursor to further research studies on cow enrichment in Australia.
The couple and their cows will feature in an integrated TV and outdoor advertising campaign to support the launch of the new game.
Want to read more stories like this?
Sign up below (select Dairy News) to receive our e-newsletter delivered fresh to your email inbox twice a week.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.