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Cash Tills Ring Loud as Cows Dance to Farmer's Tunes

An old Chinese saying goes "playing piano to the cow" or "casting pearls before a swine" to express the worthlessness of an initiative or endeavor, but a farmer in Henan has been able to prove that at least the former can be very rewarding, indeed.

Guo Zhixin of Luoyang, Henan Province, who found cows have a better appetite when listening to music, has been getting a kindergarten teacher to play music for his cows since this July.

From 7 am to 9 am everyday, Li Meimei plays music on an electric piano for the benefit of 860 cows.

"I don't know whether cows can understand music, but they actually eat more!" Guo said. "As soon as the music is on, even those sleeping will wake up and eat. They also eat faster with the background music, and most of them stop when the music stops."

The idea of playing music to the cows came to Guo four years ago, after he read in a magazine that cows eat more if exposed to music. To try if it works, Guo played some taped music for his cows. The results were encouraging as the daily milk production of each cow increased by one kilogram, increasing his monthly income by several hundred yuan.

After spoiling five tape recorders in four years, Guo decided to hire Li who said she enjoyed the quiet environment as she played for the cows.

"Playing music to cows actually has a scientific basis," according to Li Ming, a professor at the Agricultural University of Henan.

Music, especially slow music, can have a soothing effect on the animals and this will lead to better appetites and more milk production, he said.

The professor, however, warned farmers to avoid fast-paced music as that could agitate and even enrage the cows.

(China Daily August 17, 2007)

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