On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Eight maids a-milking ...

Dairy farmers worldwide wonder how to boost production, particularly during the Christmas season, when Santa's cookie appetite strains the milk supply chain. Probably, there are some methods that involve drugs and electrocution, but not all farms are into that kind of thing. Plus, a lot of the stuff that you might think would stimulate cows just stresses them out. Relaxing them is the way to go. Cows give more milk when they naturally make oxytocin, meaning when they're happy.

Sometimes, farms heat barns or keep cows comfy with soft bedding. A lot of farmers have tried music. Cows seem to like music, make more milk when they've been listening to music, and eventually start to complain when the farmer turns the radio off.

The largest experiment on this happened about 20 years ago. Researchers at the University of Leicester played various artists, from Simon & Garfunkel to Jamiroquai, and they concluded that slow songs work best. When the music is around 100 beats per minute, milk production can rise 3 percent. Note that no scientists have since replicated these results, but also, no scientists have tried. It's a difficult and expensive experiment to set up, unless you happen to already own your own cow herd.

Because of that, we mostly just have the farmers' own experiments to go off of. Farmers all seem to agree music helps, and cows like when the farmers settle on a single recording because cows like routine. Usually, farms try whichever music the employees like best, so American farms play Spanish-language or country music, but one Texas farm discovered that cows seem to hate Willie Nelson, for some reason.

At St. Helen’s Farm in Seaton Ross, England, the milkmaids put on a Christmas album one year and found that the goats really liked one song in particular: Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You." This song has a tempo about 1.5 times faster than what scientists say is the optimum milk catalyst, but the goats produce an impressive 16% more milk when treated to the song on repeat. 

The farmers, Angus and Kathleen, tried other holiday fare too, but Alvin & The Chipmunks "The Chipmunk Song" made the 2,000 goats stop making milk altogether. So, the farm stuck to "All I Want For Christmas." This was bad news for the milkmaids, who grew to absolutely despise the song, but in England, you learn to swallow your complaints and not make a fuss.

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... seven swans a-swimming

Six geese a-laying

Five gold rings!

Four calling birds

Three French hens

Two turtle doves

and a partridge in a pear tree!

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Top image: TomElliott113/Wiki Commons, Columbia

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