The sounds of One Direction may set millions of girls’ hearts aflutter but hens are more moved by Beethoven according to a new study.
Hens chose to lay their eggs in nest boxes playing classical music, with six per cent more eggs collected in these areas and fewer from boxes playing Britain’s biggest boy band.
The research was commissioned by the happy egg co. to discover the positive benefits of music on hens as part of its long-term commitment to find new ways to make its flocks even happier. Over two months happy egg hens were exposed to pop, rock and classical songs by artists including Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Queen, Bach and Mozart, with their reactions and behaviours then monitored.
Off the back of the findings, the leading free range egg brand is releasing Top of the Flocks, an album of tracks produced by renowned British composer Jack Ketch to help boost hen happiness, relaxation and productivity. Copies of the album will be given to happy egg producers with the album also available to download from Facebook to enable hens across the country to enjoy music to lay to.
The happy egg co., who commissioned the University of Bristol to help with the study, found that hens were intrigued by all types of music. The hens entered the nest boxes 159 per cent more frequently during weeks when music was playing than during quieter weeks when no music was played.
In addition, hens showed a preference for nest boxes playing Beethoven, Bach and Mozart over those broadcasting Lady Gaga and One Direction. Although the hens did not lay any more eggs overall, they did switch nest boxes, laying six per cent more eggs in the boxes playing Eine Kleine Nachtmusik at the expense of eggs laid elsewhere.
Founded in 2009, the happy egg co. is the UK’s number one free range brand and is committed to the highest standards of animal welfare. As well as plenty of green pasture to roam and forage, all happy egg farms are equipped with an assortment of activities to enhance the birds’ surroundings - from towers to perch on, sandpits for dust-bathing, and natural play areas - and happy egg farmers are always looking for ways to further enhance the lives of their ‘girls.’
Rob Newell, Head of Brand Marketing at the happy egg co.: “We know hens have good hearing and respond in different ways to different sounds. We wanted to see if music could boost their happiness. We’ve already developed a range of activities for our farms to ensure our girls lead a rich and full life but we wanted to take this one step further and introduce new forms of entertainment for our flocks.
“The album is already going down really well across our farms and the research will also be used to inform our awareness of how noise can affect laying birds and the importance of providing them with an environment that best suits their preferences when it comes to musical stimulus.”
Composer Jack Ketch who composed the album inspired by the research findings added: “I’ve been composing music professionally for more than 15 years, but being asked to create an album for hens was definitely a first! I’ve had a fantastic time working closely with the hens, and spending time on a happy egg farm, to create an original composition they love and respond well to. I’ve discovered the happy egg girls have a great musical ear and it’s been a privilege to do something to boost their happiness.”
Isabelle Pettersson at the University of Bristol who conducted the study on behalf of the happy egg co. concluded: “The study shows that chickens have the ability not only to hear music but to discriminate between different genres, as shown by the fact that some of the birds switched nest boxes, choosing to lay preferentially to the accompaniment of classical music. We already know that hens are sensitive to noise and that loud noises of 80 decibels or more can have a profoundly negative effect on them, but it would seem the soothing tempo of classical composition may have a more positive effect.”
To listen to or download the album visit www.thehappyegg.co.uk