Do Cows Like Music?

Cows do like music. Studies have shown that playing downtempo or classical music for cows helps them feel more relaxed, resulting in increased milk production and a noticeable reduction in stress hormones.

Although we can’t be sure exactly what cows are thinking when they listen to music, the evidence is clear. Music is beneficial to cows’ well-being, as long as the right type of music is played.

In this article, we’ll explore why cows like music, how we know they like it, and we’ll also discover that cows can be quite picky when it comes to musical genres!

Do Cows Like Music

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Why do Cows like Music?

Cows like music because it helps them to calm down and feel more at ease, even in potentially stressful situations like milking.

1. Cows are hardwired to enjoy emotional music

Studies on the effects of music on mammals show that emotional music engages several different parts of the brain, including the reward center.

In the human world, classical music therapy takes advantage of this fact to improve the mood of patients with depression, by inducing an emotional response to music and triggering a dopamine release. 

This emotional response is called frisson, and if you’ve ever listened to a piece of music and felt the hair on the back of your neck stand up you’ve already experienced this effect first hand!

We know that like other intelligent mammals, cows can experience complex emotions like joy, love, loneliness, and grief so it’s not surprising that cows can also experience the mood-boosting effect of emotional music.

2. Maternal associations

Cows are highly intelligent, emotional creatures, who form strong social bonds with their herd. 

In nature, cows moo to help find each other inside a large herd. Listening to calm, slow, and bass-heavy music may remind cows of their mothers’ lowing and help reduce stress caused by loneliness.

This is similar to leaving the television or radio on in the background for your dog, to help them feel less alone while you’re out.

3. It drowns out stressful noises

Dairy cows are kept for long periods in milking parlors, which are often full of noisy, clacking machinery.

In a 2014 report published in Modern Farmer, president of Aurora Organic Farms Juan Velez explained that

From a sensory perspective, loud, distracting noise can be one of the greatest stressors to dairy cows and their well-being.

The report postulated that playing comforting, relaxing music to livestock held in noisy milking sheds helped reduce stress in dairy cows by drowning out the sound of the machinery.

This method of using music as a noise-reduction tool is already widely used in chicken farms, where high levels of cortisol and other stress hormones degrade the quality of the poultry meat.

How do we know Cows like Music?

There have been a number of studies showing that music has a positive effect on cows’ well-being, as well as plenty of anecdotal evidence from Youtube, where musicians playing music for cattle has become a bit of a trend, with the cows often coming in from all corners of their fields to listen.

In one study by psychologists at the University of Leicester in the UK, researchers noticed an increase in milk production in cows who were played classical music and slow pop ballads.

Milk production was increased by around 3% when slow, relaxing music was played to the cows in the study.

We can infer from this that cows who listened to the calming music were less stressed because stress levels are directly correlated with milk production. Stress inhibits the release of oxytocin, which is required for lactation in all mammals.

What type of Music do Cows Like?

Cows like slow, calming, and relaxing music. Under 100 beats per minute seems to be the sweet spot. Multiple studies and anecdotal stories have shown that cows like classical music, which helps them feel relaxed.

According to research from the University of Leicestershire, slower tracks like Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” resulted in an uptick in milk production, whereas faster tracks like “Tigerfeet” by Mud had no effect.

We know from studies and anecdotal evidence that cows like classical music, as well as downtempo tracks and brass instruments.

One dairy farmer from Spain claims to have seen an increase of up to six liters of additional milk production per cow after introducing his cattle to Mozart.

Another farmer from Turkey said in an interview from 2019 that after letting his herd listen to classical music, he noticed an increase in milk production from his dairy cattle by 5%, along with a drop in health problems and a more docile herd.

What types of Music do Cows Dislike?

Research shows that cows do not like fast music which is over 100 beats per minute and that cows dislike electronic, rock, and country and western music.

Some specific tracks which are said to have had no effect on cows’ happiness include “Pumping On Your Stereo” by Supergrass, “Tigerfeet” by Mud, and “Space Cowboy” by Jamiroquai. 

Should you Play Music for Cows?

If you’re still wondering whether or not to let your cows listen to music, consider the scientific evidence.

In a 2019 study published in the Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Bioscience, it was shown that an increase in cortisol caused by stress leads to lower milk yields in dairy cattle.

This shows that not only is there a moral case to be made for keeping your cattle calm and content, but it makes financial sense too.

Playing the right music for your cows can result in a decrease in stress and a more content herd, as well as an increase in milk production in dairy cattle.

Conclusion

Bovine ballads make happy cows, and happy cows make more milk. Moosic to any farmer’s ears.

Cows are super smart, and the evidence is clear that cows do have the capacity to enjoy music, although they can be picky about what types of music they like.

Music played to cows can help drown out stress-inducing noises in farming situations, especially in loud mechanical milking parlors, and has been shown to increase milk production by up to 3%.

The most effective tracks are slow tracks under 100bpm and cows seem to prefer classical music and downtempo ballads to more aggressive songs like rock and fast pop songs.

Many farmers have cottoned on to this strange phenomenon and are already reaping the rewards of playing music to their dairy herds.

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