Narrator: This is Science Today. Increasing milk production in cows has been a goal for many years - but some of the techniques, such as using bio-engineered growth hormones, have met with controversy. Yet animal scientist Brenda McCowan of the University of California's Veterinary Teaching and Research Center at Tulare, says they've been using recordings of calf calls to stimulate milk production.
McCowan: Which makes sense from a biological perspective because calves - and these are calves that are hungry who are vocalizing - that cows would respond to hungry calves wanting milk.
Narrator: While this natural milk production technique appears to be working, McCowan says their research is still in a proof of concept stage.
McCowan: We also want to determine whether or not the calves habituate to the sounds and if so, whether or not we can combat that by providing new sounds from different calves. And we want to know if we play calls from calves with different ages, whether or not that will increase production in cows at different locations in their lactation curve. So there's a lot of optimizing to do, a lot of more studies to do before we'll be absolutely sure that this is a really viable technique.Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.