Results from a test to see how a Scottish dairy herd would respond to country music show that the tunes had a real impact on the cows’ behaviour.
Mackie’s of Scotland, with the help of local musician Colin Clyne, created a soundtrack of tunes to play to a 45 strong sample group of its herd, for a fortnight, from late August into September.
Analysis of the data from the automated milking station with the music playing, reveal that the total yield of the sample group dropped 3%, with all but one cow producing less milk in that time.
Despite the reduced yield, 73% of the sample group actually increased visits to the milking robot during the musical fortnight, paying on average nine further visits, suggesting that the cows were interested in the music – with one cow even visiting 90 additional times.
Karin Mackie, Marketing Director and one of three sibling owners at Mackie’s, said: “It would certainly seem that the cows did enjoy the music and all of our team working directly with the cows noted how content and curious they all appeared.
“The fact they were visiting the source of the country tunes much more frequently is very interesting – perhaps the music made the cows generally more active, but who knows, they could have been dancing!”
Mackie’s has around 300 milking cows of which 265 were milking during the month of August. The overall average milk yield is around 33 litres a day and over 260,000 litres of whole milk is produced on site each month for use in the ice cream dairy on the farm.
One cow upped its yield, milking after her first calf and pregnant with a second calf due in March next year. Her average daily milk yield increased by one litre over the test period. She also visited the milking unit more often, ten times more in the musical fortnight.
Karin added: “The findings are very interesting – they do suggest that our curious cows have been affected by the music. Although the yields are down we are considering expanding the trial and investing in more suitable overhead speakers for the byre.”
Colin Clyne heads up the Doricana festival and approached Mackie’s after spotting its Doric promo boards at Taste of Grampian.
He said: “It has certainly been fun visiting the experiment on the farm. It’s not my usual type of rehearsal space. I won’t be worrying about the milk yield too much, as long as the cows are enjoying the music!”