Want More Milk? Then Name Your Cows

By Boonsri Dickinson | February 4, 2009 11:25 am

cow1.jpgOne can only speculate whether cows have a preference for names like Princess or Lady. But according to a new study, pretty much any name is better than none at all.

When British scientists asked 516 U.K. dairy farmers, half of whom had named their cows, the other half of whom hadn’t, about how much milk their animals were producing, they found that the cows with names produced more milk—a whopping 500 pints more a year, in fact. That’s an extra 6,800 gallons per year at a typical farm!

The reason for the significant increase, according to Catherine Douglas of Newcastle University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, is that calling cows by name, and thereby presumably giving them personal attention, cuts their level of cortisol, a stress hormone that inhibits milk production.

The scientists also reported that the milk numbers confirmed what they already knew: Dairy farmers think their cows are intelligent and can experience a range of emotion—and sometimes even treat their cows like family.

If the extra cash isn’t a good enough reason to start calling cows by name, then here’s another one: It makes the cow less likely to kick or stomp on the person milking them.

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Image: flickr/ Skinnyde

MORE ABOUT: cows, milk, stress
  • http://www.ayearonthefarm.co.nz/ A year on the farm

    And it may just be that the farmers who name all their cows pay attention to detail and care to their every whim…

    If we named all our cows I’d be hard pressed to remember each of their names – all 350 of them!

  • http://imnotlibel.com/davidhouse/ Michael Homes

    Great info thanks for the share. You don’t mind if I ask you a rhetorical question about yourself do you?

  • Appleseed

    Animals respond to body language. Just by saying its name to a cow or horse changes your tone, body shape, your movement, your “vibes” into making the creature in question feel individual and important and at ease as a member of the herd or family. The difference between “get over, Nell!” or “get over, cow 8693B!” Put their name on their tag and say it when you interact with them, and after awhile they will know their own names. After awhile so will you.

  • Appleseed

    Go ahead.

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