Ig Nobel: Researchers named the cream of the crop

Oct 02, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Newcastle scientists Dr Catherine Douglas and Dr Peter Rowlinson have won the Ig Nobel Prize for Veterinary Medicine for their work looking at reducing stress levels in dairy cattle. In a paper published earlier this year, they described how giving a cow a name and treating her as an individual can increase a farmer’s annual milk yield by almost 500 pints.

Led by Dr Douglas, the research found that just as people respond better to the personal touch, cows also feel happier and more relaxed if they are given a bit more one-to-one attention.

The Ig Nobel Prizes, now in their 19th year, honour achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think and last night Dr Douglas said she was “surprised and delighted” with the award.

“The amusing side of the research that the media picked up on was that giving a cow a name meant she produced more milk and there was a lot of light-hearted discussion around what the best name might be and lists of the top ten names for a cow,” says Dr Douglas, who gave birth to her first child Flora just five weeks ago and was unable to travel to the US to collect the award in person.


Read also: Anthropologist Wins 'Ig Nobel' Prize for Study Of Why Pregnant Women Don't Tip Over
“But on a serious note our research was all about improving animal welfare. We showed that by improving the human-animal relationship and giving more individual attention, such as calling a by her name or interacting with her more as she grows up, you can reduce the levels of . Stress produces the hormone cortisol which can impair milk production so reducing the stress levels leads to an increase in yield.”

The Ig Nobels are “intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.”

Collecting the award at Harvard University's historic Sanders Theatre was project supervisor Dr Rowlinson, based in Newcastle University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.

He said: “On the one hand these awards are light-hearted and fun but they also have a strong underlying message that just because something makes us laugh doesn’t mean it isn’t sound, or potentially important, science.”

More information: More on this research: Names give cows a lotta bottle

Provided by Newcastle University

Explore further: Ideology prevents wheat growers from converting to more profitable methods, new study shows

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Names give cows a lotta bottle

Jan 28, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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 ...

Ig Nobel 2006 Prize in mathematics

Oct 06, 2006

The 2006 Ig Nobel Prize in mathematics was awarded to Dr Piers Barnes and Ms Nic Svenson of CSIRO for figuring out how many photographs to take of a group of people to be confident of getting at least one where ...

Bottomless bowls are an Ig Nobel winner

Oct 12, 2007

Last week, he was featured in Time magazine and USA Today. This week, he's been accorded yet another accolade: a 2007 Ig Nobel Award. All three recognize Cornell's indefatigable Brian Wansink for his quirky ...

The 2005 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

Oct 07, 2005

The 2005 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday evening, October 6, at the 15th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. The Igs are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- ...

Skimmed milk -- Straight from the cow

May 28, 2007

Herds of cows producing skimmed milk could soon be roaming our pastures, reports Cath O’Driscoll in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI. Scientists in New Zealand have discovered that some cows ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

E_L_Earnhardt
4 / 5 (1) Oct 03, 2009
Good Work! Let's hope their "Nobel" is not as soon forgotten as was Dr. Warburg's!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.