January 28, 2009

Study: Cows with names give more milk

A researcher at England's Newcastle University says cows with names tend to be happier and more productive than their nameless fellow cows.

Dr. Catherine Douglas said she analyzed data collected from more than 500 British dairy farms of varying sizes, and found that cows given names by farmers produce an average extra pint and a half of milk per day, adding up to an extra 6,800 gallons a year for an average dairy farm, The Daily Mail reported Wednesday.

Douglas said cows with names also tend to be more docile during milking and are less likely to kick or stomp on farmers.

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, the researcher said.

Douglas said named cows produce less cortisol, a stress hormone that has been tied to lower milk production.

What our study shows is what many good, caring farmers have long since believed, she said. By placing more importance on the individual, we not only improve the animals' welfare and their perception of humans, but also increase milk production.