The Hari Putar Dialogues - 42
(The Times of India ; 28 January ; LONDON: Bizarre it may seem, but a new study has suggested that cows with names can produce more milk than those who are not named. Researchers at Newcastle University have carried out the study and found that naming cows as well as treating them as individuals can help in increasing their milk production, the 'Anthrozoos' journal reported. Lead researcher Dr Catherine Douglas said: "Placing more importance on knowing the individual animals calling them by name can significantly increase milk production. Just as people respond better to the personal touch, cows also feel happier and more relaxed if given one-to-one attention. "Many farmers dote on their cows and have long thought that such interaction helps, but it has never really been tested. The statistics were significantly different for those cows with name, there's nothing else which could explain it.")
Putar: There is a report in The Times of India today about how cows have been found to give more milk when they are given names.
Hari: Really, Putar? What does this report say? Is this a study?
Putar: Yes, it is. Researchers at Newcastle University have reported a bizarre finding. They carried out this study and found that naming cows as well as treating them as individuals can help in increasing their milk production, the 'Anthrozoos' journal reported.
Hari: I don't think it's bizarre at all. In India we have been naming our cows for centuries.
Putar: But that was not done for them to give more milk, surely!
Hari: Perhaps not, but it does not surprise me that cows would give more milk if they are treated more humanly.
Putar: Do you have any evidence of this?
Hari: I think I do. Research conducted some years ago in the Netherlands revealed that cows give more milk when they are listening to music.
Hari: Yes. In diary farms in the Netherlands it is standard policy to now play Beethoven's fifth symphony, as cows have been found to be giving more milk when beautiful music is played.
Putar: What is good music according to cow standards?
Hari: Well, they certainly have good taste. Different music must have been tried on them. You can't fault their taste for selecting Beethoven. I'm sure they would not like Rap, for instance.
Putar: That's because you are prejudiced against Rap.
Hari: I don't think so.
Putar: Perhaps cows don't like Rap, because they are cows, and lack proper appreciation.
Hari: I don't think so, Putar.
Putar: The 'human' touch certainly does seem to matter. According to lead researcher Dr Catherine Douglas: "Placing more importance on knowing the individual animals and calling them by name can significantly increase milk production. Just as people respond better to the personal touch, cows also feel happier and more relaxed if given one-to-one attention.'
Hari: Were the findings marginal or conclusive?
Putar: I would say they were fairly conclusive. Let me quote what she says further. She says: "Many farmers dote on their cows and have long thought that such interaction helps, but it has never really been tested. The statistics were significantly different for those cows with name, there's nothing else which could explain it."
Hari: What was the sample size?
Putar: The Daily Telegraph reports that in their study involving 516 dairy farmers in Britain, the researchers looked at interaction between people and cows, and found that those animals with names had an average higher milk yield of 258 liters,
Hari: That does seem to be fairly conclusive. I think part of the reason why this mad cow disease developed was because of inhuman treatment of the animals.
Putar: They say it was because they were fed with animal feed.
Hari: Same thing! Cows are naturally vegetarian. Man has been trying to trick them into changing their nature. Naturally things will go wrong. In many farms in the West cows are treated just like machines. Even the milking is done by a machine, and not by human hands. If you don't treat cows humanly, they may still produce an equal quantity of milk but there may be other side effects on the animal itself.
Putar: Tell me something Papaji?
Hari: Bol, Putar?
Putar: In the Bible it says that 'man does not live by bread alone'. What does this mean?
Hari: Physical nourishment is not enough for a healthy life. Man also has other needs.
Putar: Well, apparently cows too do not live by bread alone.
Putar: According to The Times of India, Dr Douglas is reported to have said: "Our data suggests that on the whole United Kingdom dairy farmers regard their cows as intelligent beings capable of experiencing a range of emotions. Maybe people can be less self-conscious and not worry about chatting to their cows."
Hari: Fair enough.
Putar: Cows give more milk when spoken to kindly and even plants grow better on receiving a friendly human touch. Why don't businessmen respond to public urging to temper their profit seeking desires by treating animals in their farms more humanly? Even our politicians respond less productively to human urging. Is it because cows and plants are more human i.e. responsive than some species of human?
Hari: I don't know, Putar.