An anxious cow is never going to be a top milk producer. For one thing, studies have shown that stress hormones such as cortisol actually reduce milk production. So down on the farm, it’s better for everyone if the cows are happy and calm.
That’s what researchers found in when they surveyed 516 farmers in the United Kingdom about how they treat their animals. The study found that dairy farmers who give their cows names and talked to them reassuringly reported higher milk yields over an animal’s 10-month lactation period, when compared to cows without names.
Happier cows, more milk:
- The British researchers compared production from the country's National Milk Records with the survey responses of 516 dairy farmers to see if there was an association between yield and cow naming. The results appeared in Anthrozoos, a British journal dedicated to the "interactions of animals and people."
- Dairy farmers who gave their cows names got 2,105 gallons (7,938 liters) out of their cows, compared with 2,029 gallons (7,680 liters) per 10-month lactation cycle. Forty-six percent of the farmers said they named their cows.
- "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," explained cattle behaviorist Catherine Douglas.