Music doesn’t just soothe the savage beast. Domesticated animals fall under its spell, too, but they might just be a touch more discerning.
Marion resident Jerry Kline leaves a radio playing for 50 chickens he keeps in a coop east of town.
“I tune it to whatever comes in good, usually KFDI,” Kline said, “but sometimes the chickens change it.”
Whether Kline’s chickens hunt and peck for news updates in the free-range vs. battery-cage saga, or just scratch around for a spirited rendition of the “Chicken Dance,” only the great Cock of the Walk knows.
Although it’s apparent Kline’s roosters and hens produce some pretty cool chicks, he said their individual choices are not a proclamation of musical taste, which might also indicate the majority are probably not that buck-buck-bucked up about poultry rights.
“They don’t know what they’re doing,” Kline said. “They just change it to whatever comes up next.”
Their radio sits on a small shelf inside the coop.
“Chickens get flighty,” Kline said. “They just fly up or jump up and bump it. There’s not much room on the shelf.”
However, when the radio is on and the coop is a-rockin’, the predators don’t usually come-a-knockin’, but he said the flock does seem more content when there is music playing.
“I like hearing it, too, when I’m out there,” he said
Jessica Laurin, veterinarian at Animal Health Care Center, said music could inspire some in the bovine world, too.
“I read one study where classical music was shown to help improve milk production in dairy cows,” Laurin said. “It said the music made them more relaxed and comfortable and more used to certain sounds.”
County extension agent Rickey Roberts lets his livestock get down to a “standard cheap-o radio” he rocks loud enough for the whole barn to hear.
“We do it to get animals used to unusual noises,” he said. “We take those animals to show and we don’t want them to get startled in public. It is a really common thing for 4-H purposes.”
Domesticated animals sometimes get stage fright when taken from their normal environments.
“They’re not getting the same food, the same water, and their neighbors aren’t the same as they are back at home,” Roberts said. “Animals can stress — some more than others.”
Before a performance, sounds from a radio help get show animal divas like brown cows — who are perpetually pestered by the “How now?” conundrum — in the right mooooood before they take center stage.
Conversely, if an animal isn’t hip to raging guitar riffs, gravely vocals, guttural screams, fat bass, or death-metal blast beats, they’re often more likely to panic in a crowd, whether the audience is tattooed or not.
“Animals can get startled when they hear hoopin’ and hollerin’,” Roberts said. “Depending on the song, there can be a lot of hoopin’ and hollerin’.”
Roberts could not confirm if certain genres of music have different effects on animals but he did have position on the matter.
“All music is just noise to animals,” Roberts said. “It’s not an elevator music type of thing either. I’m not really trying to calm them down. It’s more to get them used to foreign sounds and unexpected noises.”