Sow of music: farmers who talk and sing to the animals
From the outside, the average working day of a farmer might appear somewhat isolated, lacking in the camaraderie and gossip enjoyed in other jobs.
But a new survey suggests farmers do enjoy a daily chin-wag – even if it can be a rather one-sided affair.
A study published by RSPCA Freedom Food to mark its Farm Animal Week found 61 per cent of farmers in the West talk to their animals.
Popular topics of conversation were found to be the weather and general well-being. Farmers also revealed they told their animals how lovely they look, and discussed issues to do with the farm.
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What’s more, 82 per cent of farmers in the region said they play music to their livestock.
Many claimed music made their animals more relaxed, calm and content. But that theory would appear to be at odds with the findings of the survey – which found the most popular artists being played to animals were hard rock band Aerosmith and controversial rapper Eminem.
Freedom Food’s survey revealed that more than half of farmers in the West play music or the radio to their animals, with Heart FM being the most popular station, followed by Radio 2.
Three farmers admitted singing opera or chart hits to their animals.
Research by Essex-based Writtle College has found that playing a radio tuned into a pop music or chat station can have a positive effect on sow and piglet behaviour, by increasing sow suckling and causing piglets to be more playful.
Dorset-based farmer David Tory said he and his cows agreed.
“Put simply, a stressed and unhappy cow won’t drop her milk but we never have that problem with our girls. The secret to their happiness and good production is not only giving them the best care we can,but tuning into the local radio or Planet Rock at milking time. The cows love a bit of Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones. It makes them chilled out and relaxed and that’s what produces great milk.
“And as for chatting to our animals, we never stop. It helps us build a trusting relationship with them and it makes us feel happy and relaxed too, which can only be a good thing for everyone’s welfare.”
RSPCA farm animal scientist, Dr Marc Cooper, added: “Like our pets, farm animals are intelligent, sentient beings and respond well to positive interaction.
“And just as we communicate to animals, they too communicate with us and can actually tell us a lot about themselves and how they are feeling by the way they behave.”