8 SEPTEMBER 1939, Page 18

Artistic Cows

An Oxfordshire farmer was asked the other day by a learned person whether he had ever noticed in his cows or bulls a dislike of red. Is a red rag offensive to a bull? His reply was wholly unexpected. He assured the enquirer that cows were singularly sensitive to both colour and sound. He had convinced himself that their yield of milk could be increased by the colour, preferably blue, with which their sheds were daubed. This brings cows into line with the bees whose preference for blue was proved by Lubbock. The farmer was more certain that music had a definitely stimulating influence. The picture of cows listehing, rapt, to the gramophone in a blue shed and, in Stevenson's phrase, giving milk with all their might, is worth a cartoonist's notice. However, there are plenty of instances of animals paying particular attention to music. The donkey, as you might expect, is credited with a particularly good ear. A cairn terrier of my acquaintance wails loudly the moment the piano is played, but whether from pain or pleasure it is not certainly known. Meanwhile the original question remains unanswered. Is a red rag more offensive to a bull than a rag of another colour?