January 30, 2009

What's in a Name?

Saw a reference to this over at The Ethicurean...

Will Bessie make more milk if you call her by name? British ag specialists say she will.

Dairy farmers who address their cows by name reported 68-gallon (258-liter) higher milk yields over the animals’ 10-month lactation period than those who didn't, according to new research published today in Anthrozoos, a British journal dedicated to the "interactions of animals and people."

The question, of course, would be why? The researchers speculate that it's akin to a rest in a hot bath...

"It was quite a revelation and quite encouraging, actually," says study co-author Catherine Douglas of Newcastle University in northeast England and a former dairy industry advisor. She tells ScientificAmerican.com the reason for the link is unclear, but speculates it may have a soothing effect on cows, which tend to fear people and get nervous when led into the milking parlor.

Now all we need is a study: 100 cows are given nice names (and maybe get some occasional ear scratching) and the other 100 get some Monsanto juice (aka, rGBH), and let's see if the mind is stronger than the engineered hormone.

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