Happy cows with names make more milk?

I saw this online today and I thought it pertained to our early conversation.

(Sorry can’t embed it)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7857178.stm

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7 Responses

  1. Evan,

    This is great! Reminds of a book that came out recently about animal emotions. I’ll have to find the title.

    2 pints a day is a big difference. One question to ask is given this finding, why don’t mroe farmers adopt the practice? So much economics spends its time arguing that the outcomes w see must be optimal since they survived, yet we can find counterfactuals that are demonstrably better than the norm. Seems like assumptions that best solutions win in evolutionary contests is flawed.

    Why couldn’t you you embed? Did you try? maybe BBC does not suport…

  2. I attempted to embed it but the BBC does not have a format that works with WordPress the way Hulu or Youtube does.

    I guess farmer’s do not have the time to name their cows and give them personal attention, especially at large diary farms or CAFOs.

  3. Right, but then, why can’t smaller farms that name their cows outperform? No economies of scale surely, is part.

    But, how hard can it be to name your cows? If a CAFO thought it would increase production, they would in a heartbeat. They use all other sorts of “unnatural” methods to boost production. (I am assuming some think it odd or unnatural to name cows, gives them a certain personhood that is at odds with their true nature as beasts).

    Like you said, it may be a question of cows/farmer at a CAFO.

    Thanks for checking on video. I got as far as you did. I noticed something about a vodpod widget, but could not take it further.

  4. This is so neat! About a mile from my house at home there is a farm (Merrymead Farm) that has many animals, including cows. They also have their own milking facility and all milk that they sell is from their own cows. Not to mention, after living by this establishment for the past 18 years, it is the ONLY milk my family will drink. I am curious whether they talk and name their cows, especially since they are a small scale farm. I think that the reason a lot of people on larger farms haven’t adopted this method because a.) they are too lazy too and b.) it seems like the people from the video did more than just name them. They seemed to be more affectionate with them, and this is a lot harder to achieve than simply naming a cow. It also seems like a far-fetched idea that would turn a lot of people away. I am extremely pro-animal (I don’t eat cow, pig, etc) and would gladly support this method, but I can imagine the majority out there would just laugh in the face of these people. They might try to point the excess milk to other causes such as the particular feed, time of day milked, etc. I do think it would be very interesting to see what would happen if large farmers adopted this method, and if it would work for them as well.

  5. The study should be extended to include Indian cows in Hindu areas where they are worshiped 🙂 I’d be interested in what kind of results they get!

  6. Holy Milk, Batman!

  7. This is so interesting! I wonder how it came to be that first-name basis can be so tightly linked to emotions. You see it everywhere. Employees in retail stores use first-name basis to try to enhance the experience for the shopper all the time. At Anthropology, they ask you what your name is and then write it on a dry erase board on the dressing room door. It’s something so small but being called by your first name really does have an emotional impact…for me at least. I know I’m straying from the cow thing but I do think there’s a link. The emotional impact of the first-name basis enhances the overall experience of a cow, so they produce more milk; the emotional impact of the first-name basis enhances the experience for the shopper, so they are more likely to buy. In both cases, success is achieved!

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