I saw an advert in a weekly rural paper which reminded me of a discovery I made a while back. The ad was for a rotary back scratcher for cows and the sales line was that happy cows produce more. And that's dead right.

One evening I was standing beside the house cow, waiting for the sight glass on the milking machine to run empty. She had taken a time to milk and the collection bucket had a generous amount in it. I was very pleased. The sight glass went dry and, instead of taking the cups off as I usually did, I started to give her back a rub as I praised her for the lovely milk she had given me. The sight glass filled up with milk again so I continued giving her a scratch. I was rather amazed at how much more milk came down.

The following milking I decided to repeat the treat and I got the same result but this time I calculated how much extra milk she gave me and it was over a third of a litre. This was consistent for the rest of the week and the 'scratch the back' process of getting more milk is now part of the dairy shed routine. It makes sense as, for very little effort, I have raised the production capacity of - not only the cow - but the whole of Middelmost.

Let's say I get one third of a litre more each milking – that's over four litres a week, which is about 150 litres extra a season if she milks for an average of 250 days. That's another calf I can raise ... or three pigs. I figure the five minutes a day it takes is a valuable use of my time. Imagine the difference it would make to a herd of 800! It would pay a dairy farmer to get WOOFER's in just to rub the cow's bottoms as they went through the milking shed.