Weird News: Cow Names Matter


Is there something about names that attracts odd research? The last time I used “Weird News” in a Neuromarketing title was in, Weird News: Names Affect Outcomes. That article detailed research that showed a weak but significant correlation between grades and the first letter of a person’s name. Now, research at Newcastle University have found that naming cows affects outcomes, too:

A cow with a name produces more milk than one without, scientists at Newcastle University have found.

Drs Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson have shown that by giving a cow a name and treating her as an individual, farmers can increase their annual milk yield by almost 500 pints.

The study, published online… in the academic journal Anthrozoos, found that on farms where each cow was called by her name the overall milk yield was higher than on farms where the cattle were herded as a group. [From Newcastle University press release - Names give cows a lotta bottle.]

The researchers acknowledge that naming the cows was only part of the process; they also talked to the cows and treated them as “individuals.”

The work was published earlier this year, but was just awarded an Ig Nobel prize.

While you are waiting for the next breaking news item on name power, remember, your cows are people, too. Or, even if they aren’t people, you’ll get more milk if you pretend they are.

(Shutterstock Image)


This post was written by:

— who has written 985 posts on Neuromarketing.

Roger Dooley writes and speaks about marketing, and in particular the use of neuroscience and behavioral research to make advertising, marketing, and products better. He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and founder of Dooley Direct LLC, a marketing consultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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4 responses to "Weird News: Cow Names Matter" — Your Turn


Karl Foxley 4. October 2009 at 8:38 am

Giving cows names and treating them as ‘individuals’ would suggest a rise in the level of care provided, happier cows produce more milk.



heath 14. January 2010 at 5:52 pm

By naming your cow to get more milk you will also more then likley see a rise in feed cost if she is truley producing more milk.. more milk=higher nutritional levels. you can treat your cow faily without “individulizing” them.


Daniele 11. February 2011 at 4:23 pm

Just as a regular customer like to be known by its name, treated like an individual and not one of the herd. A name as opposed to number; a name that recognise the individual you are and make you feel cared for.

Just a thought:
Laws were written for everyone to be treated fairly, so why do so many people claim that there is no justice? Could it be because the Law treats the herd fairly and not the individual?




Daniele 11. February 2011 at 4:30 pm

Oops! Made a couple of grammatical mistakes – clicked on ‘Submit’ before checking…


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1 response to "Weird News: Cow Names Matter" — Your Turn