A Cow by Any Other Name …
Would, let’s be honest, probably still smell like a cow. But researchers have found they want names anyway.
A study published in Anthrozoos from Newcastle University in the UK has found that cows with names produced 3.4 percent more milk than cows who were just treated like a number. That’s about 500 pints more, or about 6,800 gallons more a year for an average sized dairy farm.
The study was conducted by Dr. Catherine Douglas and Dr. Peter Rowlinson and included over 500 dairy farmers. The conclusion was that, “on farms where each cow was called by her name the overall milk yield was higher than on farms where the cattle were herded as a group.”
“Just as people respond better to the personal touch, cows also feel happier and more relaxed if they are given a bit more one-to-one attention,” said Douglas.
The study proves what many good farmers have already known: A little bit of attention can improve how animals perceive humans, which in turn positively impacts their welfare and keeps their stress levels low, also resulting in a healthier animal overall.
Happier cows produce less cortisol, a hormone that has been known to cause a decrease in milk production. Less stressed out cows are also easier to milk, making the process much more pleasant for everyone involved.
Hayley Campbell-Gibbons, the National Farmers’ Union chief dairy adviser in Britain said, “Milk production is influenced by diet, breed of cow and age and weather but health and welfare underpins everything.”
Douglas added that their “data suggests that on the whole UK dairy farmers regard their cows as intelligent beings capable of experiencing a range of emotions. Placing more importance on knowing the individual animals and calling them by name can—at no extra cost to the farmer—also significantly increase milk production.”
Cows in Europe, and Canada, are also not subjected to Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) due to concerns about human health and animal welfare.
Apparently happy cows don’t come from California, they come from Britain. Just goes to show a little love, attention and respect goes a long way.