A Playlist of Music Scientifically-Proven to Increase Cows’ Milk Production: REM, Lou Reed & More

Let’s test our agriculture math skills with a little dairy industry story problem:

If an 8-ounce glass of whole milk provides 149 calories, 8 grams of protein, 276 milligrams of calcium, 8 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 24 milligrams of cholesterol, and a cup of two-percent milk has 120 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat and 20 milligrams of cholesterol, what kind of music will result in an overall milk production increase of 3%?

According to a study at the University of Leicester School of Psychology, the answer is slow jams and easy listening.

Huh. Based on the concert tees of the boys I grew up around in Indiana, I would have guessed Rush or Guns N’ Roses. (Maybe there was some Barry Manilow going on behind closed barn doors?)

Actually, research shows that bovine musical preference, like that of aerobics instructors, hinges less on any specific artist than on beats per minute.

…I hope they didn’t spend too much on this study. Upon reflection, isn’t it just common sense that noise-sensitive herd animals attached to machines via their udders would choose a mellow groove over death metal or psychobilly?

(Poor Bananarama. It must’ve stung when the University of Leicester’s team told the world that 1,000 Holstein Friesian cattle liked listening to nothing at all better than their 1986 Billboard Hot 100 #1 hit, “Venus.”)

To paraphrase another 80′s fave, I know what cows like, thanks to a panel of five Holsteins who got to pick the winner of the British Columbia Dairy Association’s 2012 “Music Makes More Milk” contest. Brace yourself:

Did anyone else just imagine a thousand cows with phones to their ears, chewing their cuds and swishing their tails, content to remain on hold indefinitely?

Should the above tune ever grow old (doubtful) there’s always Shakespeare. According to NPR, a theatrical reading of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” proved popular, milk-wise, with an audience of UK cows. And Modern Farmer has honored Lou Reed by including one of his compositions (no, not “Metal Machine Music, Part 1″) in their recent Playlist To Milk By:

Everybody Hurts,” REM

What a Difference A Day Makes,” Aretha Franklin

Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Simon & Garfunkel

Moon River,” Danny Williams

Orinoco Flow,” Celtic Woman

Perfect Day,” Lou Reed (The Little Willie’s Lou Reed cow-tipping song aside, can you picture him milking one?)

via Grist

Related Content:

Jazz for Cows

Sir Patrick Stewart Demonstrates How Cows Moo in Different English Accents

Ayun Halliday is an author, zine publisher, and recent convert to almond milk. Follow her @AyunHalliday



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  1. Rain,adustbowlstory says . . . | February 25, 2014 / 8:18 am

    Speaking of milking cows, I just wanted to mention that VIDA just came out with their list of “Dudesville” publications that hire mostly male reviewers and review mostly male books.

    I think this site would score well, but the whole thing still makes me mad.

  2. Craig Paup says . . . | February 25, 2014 / 12:54 pm

    er…that would be Andy Williams, not Danny.

  3. Mark says . . . | February 25, 2014 / 3:18 pm

    I’m not sure they are still doing it, but Radiance Dairy in Fairfield, IA was rumored to play Gandharva music (from the Indian Vedas). And I’ve never tasted better-tasting milk.

  4. Ayun Halliday says . . . | February 25, 2014 / 4:25 pm

    Heaven forbid! You are right as rain, Craig – not sure what happened there because – in addition to the dudes in Rush shirts, I also grew up watching Andy’s Xmas specials. We will fix that.

    And Rain, just in case you didn’t knowm I’m a non-dude, and happy to have a gig with Open Culture, which I too think would get, and deserve, a good, high score!

  5. Chunyang Yang says . . . | February 26, 2014 / 7:21 pm

    Dear writer:

    I am a journalism student. I am taking the News Editing class.

    I want to know what is the style book you are currently use.

    Thank you!

  6. Ignatz Ratzkiwatzki says . . . | March 1, 2014 / 4:42 pm
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