Will Playing Music and Feeding Beer to Cows Cause Them to Produce More Milk
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
NOLD, M. A. (2005). Will Playing Music and Feeding Beer to Cows Cause Them to Produce More Milk. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 8. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved April 25, 2017 .

Will Playing Music and Feeding Beer to Cows Cause Them to Produce More Milk
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
In today’s day and age it has become harder and harder for dairy farmers to survive and make a living at the same time. One thing they are trying to do to increase the amount of money they get from milking is by adding things to their daily supply of food. The purpose of my experiment is to see if dairy cows would produce more milk if they were stimulated with music and fed beer with their daily supply of feed. To get my results I played a radio and fed beer to seventy dairy cows. The results of my project showed that playing the radio and feeding the cows beer has significant effect on the cows. As it turns out, no matter what you change with a cows daily routine it always seems to cause an increase in milk production.

There was a study done to see if by giving beef cows beer they would put on more weight to produce more beef. In that study, the farmers were given free beer from a local beer distributor that had outlived its self-life to be mixed with their cattle’s feed. The reason the did this was because it has been proven that beer has vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbohydrates and proteins which all benefit cattle’s diet (Bovine feed spiked with beer 2005). Previous studies used beer to increase beef production and calf vocalization to increase milk production. Beer has been shown to have vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbohydrates and proteins that help a cows’ diet. The study done by Ekern, Havrevoll, Haug, Berg, Lindstad, and Skeie (2003) used oat and barley supplements to increase the milk yield. The results of feeding cows oat-based supplements were higher yields of milk and milk protein but lower concentrations of milk fat and milk protein. By using beer, it not only benefits the cattle but also the beer industry because they can be rid of beer that has outlived its shelf life. Beer from the Canadian brewery Molson was given to cattle at a nearby ranch. They were given ten pounds of beer with forty pounds of feed. They did not get tipsy because “cows have a complex stomach that breaks down the alcohol in beer, transforming it into nonalcoholic food energy” (Landry, 2002). In the McCowan, DiLorenzo, Abichandani, Brorelli, and Cullor (2002) study, calf vocalizations use during the milking process “significantly increased milk production in experimental cows by 1-2%”. It showed that soothing noise for cows is stimulating and relaxing which caused them to increase their milk production. I am not using calf vocalizations; instead, I will be using music from the radio. In comparison with previous studies, I am measuring milk production while the other studies measured the weight their cows put on. To connect the studies, they both used beer and music. The music was to stimulate the cows and the beer to see if it caused any changes in the cows. The purpose of my experiment is to see if dairy cows would produce more milk if they were stimulated with music and fed beer with their daily supply of feed. For my experiment, I wanted to see if playing music and feeding dairy cows beef would cause them to produce more milk. The results I expect to attain are that playing music, feeding beer, or combining the two processes will cause an increase the amount of milk the cows produce per milking.


The participants for the experiment included roughly seventy cows. I used the dairy cows that were on my family farm.

For the experiment, I used a standard am/fm stereo. The beer used for this experiment was donated by O’Malley Beverage Inc. To haul the beer from O’Malley’s to the site of the experiment I used five gallon buckets. I also used the regular supply of chopped silage that is given to the cows daily.

For the methodology of my research, I plan to start my project by simply putting a radio in the milking parlor and allowing the cows to hear the radio while they are being milked. I plan to do this for two weeks. Then I will continue to play the radio but will also start pouring beer on to the cows’ daily supply of feed. I will do both processes for the next two weeks. Then at the end of the second week I will stop playing the radio and just feed the beer to the cows.

I computed a one-way ANOVA to see if either playing a radio, feeding beer or both combined to cows would cause them to produce more milk than the baseline. A significant difference was found among the conditions (F(4,41)=14.249 p<.05). Tukey’s HSD was used to determine the nature of the differences. This analysis revealed that each time something was changed, milk production increased slightly. Please refer to Figure 1 for a graphical representation of this effect.

The results of my experiment showed there to be a Hawthorne effect. The Hawthorne effect came about after the Western Electric Company where they did a longitudinal study on six women that were employed there. In the study, they first measured the baseline of their production. The experimenters then placed them in a special test room, and after they adjusted to their new surroundings, they were presented with several different changes in their daily routine to see if it would affect their productivity. The experiment lasted for more than a year. From the experiment the results showed that no matter what changes were given to the participants a positive result was found. In this study it seemed every time something was changed such as adding the radio, adding the beer and then taking away the radio, and then taking away the beer it seemed that milk production increased every time. After calculating, the results of experiment it showed that my hypothesis that either playing a radio or feeding cows beer would cause them to produce more milk. For this experiment, I felt that to make it better I needed to have sufficient amount of beer. If you had more beer, I think the beer per cow ratio would be closer to what it should be unlike what I had to work with for this project. Another thing I would change for next would be to limit the cows to just one option of food instead of two. The reason I would make this change is because were they had two options they were not getting the same amount of beer if they were just limited to the one option. If I were to do this project, again I would also extend the duration of the project. The reason I would do this is that if it was longer you might get better and more accurate results. If you were to do this same project on a dairy farm where the cows are restricted to staying on the lot and not allowed to roam freely in the pasture you may not get the same results. I am also curious to see if you were to do this same project on a dairy farm where they had more cows as what I had for my project you would you get the same results as what I found.

Bovine feed spiked with brew. (2005, January 10). Midwest AG Journal, p. 18-B.Ekern, A., Havrevoll, O., Haug, A., Berg, J., Lindstad, P., & Skeie, S. (2003). Oat and barley based concentrate supplements for dairy cows. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica: Section A, Animal Science, 53, 65-73.Elmes, D.G., Kantowitz, B.H., & Roedieger, H.L. (1995). Research methods in psychology. Saint Paul: West Publish Company. Landry, C. J. (2002) Beer for Bessie [Electronic version]. Perc Reports, Retrieved February 11, 2005, from http://www.perc.org/publications/percreports/dec2002/beer.php McCowan, B., DiLorenzo, A. M., Abichandani, S., Borelli, C., & Cullor, J. S. (2002). Bioacoustic tools for enhancing animal management and productivity: Effects of recorded calf vocalizations on milk production in dairy cows. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 77, 13-20.


Submitted 4/28/2005 8:44:48 PM
Last Edited 4/28/2005 8:59:16 PM
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