Dairy farmers have played music at milking time for generations – in fact ever since the days when cows were hand milked in rough lean-to sheds.
To learn what is in vogue these days in the rotary and herringbone, and even robotic, milking platforms, DairyNZ teamed with Magic Talkback’s Rural Exchange radio programme to canvas farmers and their staff about what is on their playlists.
While rock music won out with a lot of farmers saying they have a good sing along as they milk their cows, country and pop genres tied for a close second with one farmer pointing out country is tops because ‘country’s where the cows feel at home’.
Another farmer confides her cows are Mamma Mia fans, and seem especially happy when she sings along too.
Classical music registers as well with several farmers remarking it has a calming yet uplifting effect.
Gospel struck a chord with another farmer who said it lifts his soul and the cows to let down their milk.
While the survey was conducted in a light-hearted manner, DairyNZ’s animal care team manager, Helen Thoday, says it shows farmers care for their animals’ wellbeing – and want the people helping to milk the cows to be happy too.
“Scientific studies show music can have a calming effect on cows, and there’s the University of Leicester School of Psychology1 study that found when music of around 100-120 beats per minute was played to dairy cows at milking time their milk production increased by three percent.
“For dairy cows the sweet spot hinges less on a specific artist and more on the beats per minute – and it’s the same beat range favoured by many gym instructors for a good workout and for CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.”
Ms Thoday says New Zealand dairy farmers have become experts in cow comfort, from the design of milking machines and milking platforms, to understanding that cows have senses and feelings, although cows experience the world in a different way.
“Top of mind for most farmers these days is the overall wellbeing and happiness of their cows.
“They know happy cows not only produce more milk and are easier to manage, but just like humans who are happy, happy cows are generally healthier too.”
1 For details of the Leicester School of Psychology study go to www.le.ac.uk/press/press/moosicstudy.html
Footnote: Amongst the ‘moosic’ to milk by in the 100-120 beats per minute playlist is Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’.
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