Dairy Cows Give More Milk When You Say Their Name

dairy cow in field

Photo via gargoylesoftware

Turns out there's another big reason to go for milk from smaller operations - they have more opportunity to name their cows and talk kindly to them than factory farms. And that means more milk!The soothing feeling of someone crooning your name extends beyond humans and household pets. According to new research, cows will produce quite a bit more milk - about an extra liter a day - if they have a name and are called by it during milking.

Getting a cow to relax is the key to getting more milk. And a source of that relaxation is in kind gestures like petting her and calling her by a name. After surveying over 500 farms, the results seemed clear:

Previous studies have shown that elevated stress hormones like cortisol reduce milk production by interfering with the milk-boosting hormone oxytocin, among other effects. Anxious cows are also more likely to stomp and kick, making milking more difficult.

"If you call a cow by name, it indicates that perhaps you talk to her more, perhaps you consider her more of an individual, perhaps you have more of a one-to-one relationship," said [cattle behaviorist Catherine Douglas]

Being kinder to animals is more productive for farms across the board, it seems.

The new results echo similar studies of other animals, said Ian Duncan, the Chair in Animal Welfare at the University of Guelph in Ontario. Anxious chickens lay fewer eggs, for example. Fearful pigs and sheep grow more slowly. Even trout quickly learn to swim away from scary situations, and fear causes them to eat less.

Just one more reason why going to your local small farmer for your dairy - especially organic dairy - makes a big difference.

More on Farming Practices:
To Stop Global Warming and Hunger, Let’s Turn to Organic Farming
Sun-Reflecting Crops May Help Cool the Planet
The "Naturally-Raised" Meat You Eat May Be Just the Opposite
Most Cage-Free Eggs Are Now From Producers Certified as Humane

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