Modern Farmer reports on ongoing research that’s found that cows make more milk when listening to R.E.M. and Simon & Garfunkel:
Many dairies in the U.S. play either country or Spanish-language music in parlors. This choice is highly dependent on milking employee preferences. However, no matter how many calls are made to the request line, one only has so much control over what’s played on the radio. This begs the question: If you could make the perfect mix tape for a dairy, what would it include?
“The beat of the music seems to matter more than a specific genre,” says Alworth. “[In studies] animals seemed, in general, to find slow, rhythmic music most relaxing. Perhaps easy listening or new age would be best.”
Frannie Miller, of Sulphur Springs, Texas, plays Spanish-language music in her parlor where her largely Latino employees milk about 130 Jerseys. “Our cows will tolerate some country and western, but they do not like Willie Nelson,” she reports. Their milk production doesn’t drop, but something about the country legend’s warble agitates the cows.
The 2001 University of Leicester study reported that songs like “Everybody Hurts” by REM and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” soothed cows enough to produce the most milk, while such Y2K Euro club classics like Mousse T vs. Hot N Juicy’s “Horny” failed to produce such positive lactational results.
From a practical standpoint, perhaps the use of music in the milking parlor is just an easy way to drown out mechanical noise and provide the animals with a consistent environmental element.
“Music is a calming sound to the cows,” says Spadgenske, the Minnesota dairy farmer. “They get used to that. If they’re calm and content, then obviously milk production is going to be better. There are different ways you can reach that, and I think that music happens to be one of those ways.”