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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

NY Times: Do Cows with Names Give Up More Milk?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 4:04 PM

click to enlarge C'mon, Tulip. That's right, Peppermint. - FADERRATTNERB/FLICKR
  • faderrattnerb/Flickr
  • C'mon, Tulip. That's right, Peppermint.
Anyone thumbing through The Times Magazine's "9th Annual Year in Ideas" issue might have skimmed this dubious entry: "Cows With Names Make More Milk." We're not scoffing at the data, exactly. A March 2009 study of several hundred British dairies did reveal that farms with named cows produced 6 percent more milk than those maintaining anonymous herds. We're just finding the subsequent flights of logic thinner than a glass of Berkeley Farms 1 percent.

We're thinking that farmers with a sufficiently robust vocabulary of suitable bovine monikers probably have smaller herds ― and probably treat them better ― than the majority of massive milking operations with their mooing, ear-tagged masses. The actual naming surely can't hurt, but we're not sure it helps. We're also wondering if this idea is any better than some we've had quite casually over the past 300-something days. For example, one morning in June, we woke up with a horrible cough and decided to stay home and sip tom yum instead of go to work. That was a good idea. Back in March, we decided to order the fregula with fresh ricotta and cured tuna heart at La Ciccia. Another winner.

All the same, regardless of naming's effect on the productivity of cow herds, we'd still rather drink milk that dripped from a Tulip, Peppermint, or Buttercup than #1605043. Or #1605044. Or #1605045.

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Andrew Simmons

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