Being treated as an individual helps a cow let down 500 extra pints of milk a year.
- Cows with names produce up to five percent more milk.
- Nearly half of the 500 farmers surveyed named their cows.
- Previous studies have shown that high stress interfers with the milk-boosting hormone oxytocin.
Dairy cows face a lot of pressure. Every day, month after month, a lactating cow is expected to let down her milk under the expectant eyes of a farmer whose bottom line depends on how much it he can squeeze out.
Now, new research suggests a gentle way to get more milk out of anxious mama-cow: Stroke her, ask about her day, and call her Elsa, Rose, or Lady Moo. Cows with names produce up to five percent more milk, according to a study published in January in the journal Anthrozoos.
It's not the name itself that makes a dairy cow more productive, said cattle behaviorist Catherine Douglas, of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. Rather, a cow with a name is likely to be more relaxed than if she were treated as just another number.