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"Music proven to increase milk yields to up to three percent"
 real 56k

Dr Adrian North of the University of Leicester
"What we're interested in is the arousal content of music"
 real 28k

John Sumner, royal association of UK dairy farmers
"If you can create conditions during milking that are calming, cows will respond positively"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 26 June, 2001, 23:04 GMT 00:04 UK
Sweet music for milking
Milk PA
Music to the ears of all dairy farmers?
By BBC News Online's Helen Briggs

Dairy cows produce more milk when listening to relaxing music, say researchers.

They believe farmers could get an extra pint from their charges by playing classical music or smoochy numbers in the cowshed.

Top hits with cows
Everybody Hurts, REM
What a difference a day makes, Aretha Franklin
Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water
Danny Williams, Moon River
Lou Reed, Perfect Day
Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony
Psychologists at the University of Leicester, UK, played music of different tempos to herds of Friesian cattle.

Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony and Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water were a big hit in the milking shed. But when rowdy numbers, like Mud's Tigerfeet and Size of a Cow by Wonderstuff, were played, there was no increase in milk yield.

"Calming music can improve milk yield, probably because it reduces stress," said Dr Adrian North, who carried out the study with colleague Liam MacKenzie.

Some farmers already play music to chickens, as there is anecdotal evidence that it reduces stress.

"A lot of farmers seem to think it works," Dr North told BBC News Online. "In essence, we're following their lead."

Stress relief

The study was carried out at LCAH Dairies in Lincolnshire and Bishop Burton Agricultural College in Humberside.

One-thousand-strong herds of Friesian cattle were exposed to fast, slow and no music for 12 hours a day, from 5am to 5pm, over the course of nine weeks.

Low in the cow hit parade
Jamiroquai, Space Cowboy
Supergrass, Pumping on your Stereo
Wonderstuff, Size of a Cow
Mud, Tigerfeet
Mousse T vs. Hot N Juicy, Horny
The researchers found that each cow's milk yield rose by 3% (0.73 litres [1.54 pints]) a day when slow music, rather than fast music, was played.

The work adds to evidence that calming music reduces stress in animals, as well as people.

"Most theories of music preferences are based on humans," said Liam MacKenzie.

"We found that slow music improved milk yields perhaps because it relaxes the cows in much the same way as it relaxes humans."

The pair is now seeking further funding to see whether music can help other animals.

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