Effects of naming cows on milk production study wins Ig Noble

A study which found that named cows produce more milk than their nameless sisters won the Veterinary Medicine prize in this year’s Ig Noble Awards.

The research was carried out by Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University.

Ig Nobles are awarded for achievements which first make people laugh then make people think.

The Public Health Prize went to Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago for inventing a bra that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of gas masks, one for the bra wearer and one to be given to  bystander.

Other award winners were:

PEACE PRIZE:   Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl from the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining — by experiment — whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.

ECONOMICS PRIZE: The directors, executives, and auditors of four Icelandic banksbanks — Kaupthing Bank, Landsbanki, Glitnir Bank, and Central Bank of Iceland — for demonstrating that tiny banks can be rapidly transformed into huge banks, and vice versa — and for demonstrating that similar things can be done to an entire national economy.

CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Javier Morales, Miguel Apátiga, and Victor M. Castaño  from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, for creating diamonds from liquid — specifically from tequila.

MEDICINE PRIZE: Donald L. Unger, of Thousand Oaks, California, USA, for investigating a possible cause of arthritis of the fingers, by diligently cracking the knuckles of his left hand — but never cracking the knuckles of his right hand — every day for more than 60 years.

PHYSICS PRIZE: Katherine K. Whitcome of the University of Cincinnati, USA, Daniel E. Lieberman of Harvard University, USA, and Liza J. Shapiro of the University of Texas, USA, for analytically determining why pregnant women don’t tip over.

LITERATURE PRIZE: Ireland’s police service (An Garda Siochana), for writing and presenting more than fifty traffic tickets to the most frequent driving offender in the country — Prawo Jazdy — whose name in Polish means “Driving License”.

MATHEMATICS PRIZE: Gideon Gono, governor of Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank, for giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers — from very small to very big — by having his bank print bank notes with denominations ranging from one cent ($.01) to one hundred trillion dollars ($100,000,000,000,000).

BIOLOGY PRIZE: Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu, and Zhang Guanglei of Kitasato University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Sagamihara, Japan, for demonstrating that kitchen refuse can be reduced more than 90% in mass by using bacteria extracted from the feces of giant pandas.

3 Responses to Effects of naming cows on milk production study wins Ig Noble

  1. Paul Tremewan says:

    Do ear tags with a number qualify as a ‘name’? If not, how do bovine personnel distinguish: “Nice lot of milk, Daisy!’ from ‘Excellent yield, 345287.”

    Just so much for us city boys to try and understand!


  2. Kismet says:

    You are right – first I laughed then I started thinking LOL. Need more info on the parameters around that trial – small herds more likely to all have names? Registered pedigree cows have names, are those who name their cows more alert to the health and wellbeing of said cows?

    Love the guy who cracked his knuckles daily for 60 years – would like to know the outcome of that trial.


  3. Richard says:

    Reminds me of a PhD, when living in Cambridge UK apptox 30 years ago, “The Effect of the Bicycle in Norwich City” – I think the author was a Kiwi- a joke at the time, but perhaps rather forward thinking.

    My stepson’s godfather wrote a book on “French Pulpit Oratory 17– 17– “-a 25 year period. Might sound obscure, except in those days in Europe and in the UK the pulpit was like the media, newspapers/ radio/internet, etc is today. The Church had great influence in NZ- in my travels north and south in the South Island I am always stuck by the size of the Catholic church in Timaru as you enter the city from the south- influence and money.


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