Ermintrude, Daisy and La vache qui rit may produce as much as 454 pints more each year than cows with no names.
In a study involving 516 dairy farmers in the UK, Dr Catherine Douglas and Dr Peter Rowlinson at Newcastle University found that treating the animals as individuals also increased production.
The average amount of milk produced by a cow over its annual 10 month lactation period is 13,198 pints (7,500 litres). Those cows with names had an average higher milk yield of 454 pints (258 litres).
“Many farmers dote on their cows and have long thought that such interaction helps, but it has never really been tested.
“The statistics were significantly different for those cows with name – there was nothing else which could explain it.”
The study, published in the academic journal Anthrozoos which looks at interaction between people and animals, found milk yield to be lower on farms where cattle were herded as a group.
Nearly two thirds – 60 per cent – of UK farmers said they “knew all the cows in the herd” and 48 per cent agreed that positive human contact was more likely to produce cows with a good milking temperament.
Almost 10 per cent said that a fear of humans resulted in a poor milking temperament.
Dr Douglas said: “Our data suggests that on the whole UK dairy farmers regard their cows as intelligent beings capable of experiencing a range of emotions.
“Placing more importance on knowing the individual animals and calling them by name can – at no extra cost to the farmer – also significantly increase milk production.
“Maybe people can be less self conscious and not worry about chatting to their cows.”
Dairy farmer Dennis Gibb, who owns Eachwick Red House Farm near Newcastle with his brother Richard, said treating every cow as an individual was “vitally important”.
“They aren’t just our livelihood – they’re part of the family,” he said. “We love our cows and every one of them has a name.
“Collectively we refer to them as ‘our ladies’ but we know every one of them and each one has her own personality.”
(From The Telegraph)