Music to their ears

Published 9:28 am Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My dad said his father thought a man was not really farming unless he had hogs on the place. Perhaps that’s why we’ve just about always had them on our farm; tearing up fences, breaking down fence posts and getting out what seemed like every Sunday morn.

In spite of it all, I’ve always enjoyed these four-legged, round-nosed critters.

Which brings me to my point.

I read a few years back that happy pigs eat more, grow faster and are healthier. This writer also said some research has shown that music can contribute to their well-being. In light of this, not long ago I went to town and bought (I’m not making this up) four transistor radios and hung them up around the hogs. At $9 each there was little to lose. But then came the dilemma: What kind of music should be played? The research had shed no light on that subject. Why not conduct my own experiment?

First stop was classical music. Nice and easy, right? Soothing, right? I let it play all night and came back next morn. Funny thing, the pigs were quiet. Too quiet. Their noses were stuck up in the air and what little conversation going on seemed to be in whispers.

Next I turned it too the blues. The following morning I heard them as I got close. Sniffing and everything. Then I saw tears. It is hard to watch a herd of hogs cry, so I thought that not best.

Well, how about all talk radio? No music, just one of those all talk shows. Next morning- it was an odd thing- half the hogs were huddled to the left and half to the right, with little discussion between, save for a periodic menacing glance or grunt. It didn’t seem like they would ever get together. This wasn’t going to work.

Next was heavy metal. Real loud, all night long. Next morn, those pigs were all banging into each other and acting crazy. Seemed they didn’t even care about eating.

Finally I tried country. If this didn’t work, well, I’d only be out $36. Next morning I heard them before I got there. Grunting and having a good time. Front legs around each other’s shoulders, swaying back and forth, not caring what the one next to them was thinking. It seemed I had hit the right note.

Four months later, they were still swaying to the music. Big, fat and happy. Think I’ll stick with that station.

Which got me thinking. Do you think it would work the same way with people?

REX ALPHIN of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is