It wouldn’t come as a surprise to many local dairy farmers that a little music can change the mood in a barn.
But most would be surprised to find a live symphony orchestra playing among the bedding, bales and dairy cows. That’s exactly the scene that unfolded at the Valedoorn Farm in Agassiz on Tuesday, when a quartet of classically-trained musicians, led by Coast Symphony Orchestra conductor Edette Gagné, dropped by to play for Tom Hoogendoorn’s herd.
It was a symphonic way to open up a new online initiative called Music Makes More Milk, a contest based on the common observation among dairy farmers that cows respond positively to music. It’s been designed and carried out by the B.C. Dairy Association.
British Columbians are invited to try their hand at composing original music for a burgeoning new audience of aficionados: milk-producing dairy cows.
“Over time, B.C. dairy farmers get to know their cows well. They understand their behaviour, their moods, their likes and dislikes,” says Dave Eto, Executive Director for the BC Dairy Association. “One thing they’ve come to learn is that happy cows produce more milk.”
Music Makes More Milk contestants will use an online music composition tool to create original songs to play for the cows. The tunes of semi-finalist contestants — determined through a public voting system — will have their compositions played directly to cows on a B.C. dairy farm. Ultimately, it is the cows that will serve as the final judges of the contest, identifying an overall winner based on the highest milk production achieved while listening to the various contest entries. The winning contestant will receive a trip for four to the 55th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
In order to prime the cows for the contest the quartet performed an “opening act” of Mozart numbers.
The six-week “Music Makes More Milk” contest launched to the public on Oct. 10. Everyone is welcome to submit a tune at www.musicmakesmoremilk.com, but only British Columbians may enter the contest.
The BC Dairy Association (BCDA) is a not-for-profit organization that represents the B.C. dairy industry, by advancing the legitimate business interests of B.C.’s dairy farmers and by raising awareness of the dynamic, economically sustainable nature of the industry, which consistently supplies high-quality products to consumers. It implements innovative advertising, promotion and nutrition education programs and advocates for producers’ concerns such as the environment, animal welfare, product safety, employee training, trade and regulatory matters.