Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Mooozart Effect

After Playing Mozart at Milking Time, One Farmer Has Seen a Dramatic Shift in Cows' Temperament and Production

On Hans Pieter Sieber's Priegola dairy farm in Villanueva del Pardillo, Spain, the secret to success is not some newfangled technology or machine. Nor is it a time-tested technique or process handed down from generation to generation. Rather it is the dulcet, layered tones of classical music.

( not just any music.

Sieber exposes his herd of approximately 700 heifers to the famous chords, crescendos and cadences of Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Once just normal, run-of-the-mill dairy cows, these Friesians now receive the rock star treatment -- listening to soothing music, sleeping on water beds, taking relaxing showers, and even enjoying sessions with an animal psychologist.

Believe it or not, since sending Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp in D Major soaring through their stalls at milking time, Sieber has seen a dramatic shift in the temperament and production of his Daisys and Besses.

Now his herd quietly lines up to be milked, seeming not to mind the poking and prodding that comes with being a dairy cow, and, most notably, producing anywhere from 1 to 6 more liters of milk per day than their non-Mozart listening counterparts.

"It is relaxing music for them, but at the same time it is dynamic, it keeps the cows active. The trick is not to have music too relaxing," said Sieber's son, Nicolas Sieber, the head of marketing for the Priegola farm. But Sieber believes it's simpler than that. "If you give the cows comfort they are more disposed to help out," he said.

Originally discovered by monks in Brittany, the effect of Mozart on cows' milk production is not a totally new concept.

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