It’s really quite obvious: farm animals benefit from the attention and companionship of humans.
A recent study in the UK demonstrated that milk cows who have been given names produce 3-4% more milk than those who do not have names.
Why would naming be significant?
As I’ve discussed here, naming implies respect and companionship, and naming is not incompatible with our need, as humans, to consume animal products.
It makes sense that milk cows, having been separated from their babies (their calves), would greatly benefit from all the affection we could manage to give them. After all, they are grieving.
Milkmaid and I will never forget the first night after we separated our milk cow from her calf. They were put in pastures which were 100 yards or more apart, and separated by a hill and a substantial stand of woods. But they lowed mournfully to each other all night. Back and forth, back and forth.
Sal and Sparky, longing for one another.
We emerged from our poor sleep with a new respect for, and understanding of, their lives. Why would it be a stretch to imagine they could sense this respect? After all, horses and dogs are legendary in their abilities to sense their master’s feelings.
Though I feel certain this effect must be most pronounced with dairy animals, all domesticated animals must benefit from naming, and all it entails. Just like children, animals can sense when they are appreciated and enjoyed.