While our humble farm is of the growing plant variety, we have a vested interest in all farming practices of all kinds. We are especially interested in dairies, and they in which they operate. A recent article caught our attention and brought about some facts that make us wonder if dairy farming techniques may be able to extend to growing crops of fruits and vegetables.
It turns out that a cow who is feeling stressed will not be productive when it comes to milking. What exactly can stress out a cow? Well when you step inside the modern dairy, you don’t find lines of cows happily relaxing while chewing on grass. These are usually major production plants where a cow can’t get a moments peace with all of the noise and activity. This stresses out the cow.
What Does Stress Do the Cow?
The “Happy Cheese Comes from Happy Cows” campaign launched by the dairy industry is much closer to the truth than you realize. Stress inhibits the release of oxytocin, which is a key element in making milk. This has caused dairy farmers to rethink the comfort of their cows.
Barn design, climate control and noise reduction are all being giving careful consideration now that the truth about stress, cows and milk has been discovered.
The Secret Ingredient
While scientists and psychologists are reluctant to chime in, experienced dairy farmers have learned that playing soft music inside of the barn does increase milk production. The key being soft music, like elevator muzak, not rock and roll. This method has been adopted by dozens of dairy farms around the world, and has shown great result.
Music is soothing, and can easily be introduced into a barn. Being mammals ourselves, it is easy to relate to the calming effects that music can have. Other methods that we routinely employ to relax, such as a 30 minute break in a portable infrared sauna, simply will not work on a cow. While a portable infrared sauna is easy to set up and use, it is not going to be easy to get a cow inside. Although who knows if one day in the future, dairy farmers will also find a way to introduce this relaxation technique into the barn.
Plants are alive too, and also react to stress, although their stress is more environmentally related than a result of our actions. As fruit and vegetable farmers who are always interested in larger crops and larger end products, the idea of being able to increase production with music is interesting to us. Plants don’t have ears, but we are left wondering if some Bach in the background wouldn’t hurt. We’ll let you know how it turns out.