Keen gardeners have long been known to talk to their plants to help them grow, but on British farms it’s a case of a little less conversation and a little more music.

Nearly 50% of farmers in a new poll said they played music or the radio to their animals, with Radio 2 the most popular choice (played by 23%), followed by Radio 1, according to research by the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme.

Popular artists to play to farmyard animals included Adele, Bon Jovi, Coldplay and Eminem, the survey of 250 farmers suggested.

The RSPA’s research also found 63% of farmers talk to their animals, with dairy farmers being particularly chatty. Farmers typically talked about the weather, how they or their animals were feeling and general “idle chit chat”, the RSPCA said.

Freedom Food farmer David Tory said playing music and talking to animals helped them feel relaxed and at ease.

“Put simply, a stressed and unhappy cow won’t drop her milk, but we never have that problem with our girls,” he said.

“The secret to their happiness and good production is not only giving them the best care we can, under the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme, but tuning into the local radio or Planet Rock at milking time. The cows love a bit of Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones.  It makes them chilled out and relaxed and that’s what produces great milk.”

RSPCA farm animal scientist Dr Marc Cooper added talking to farmyard animals may sound funny, but there were clear benefits to farmers.

“The farmers said that their animals are more content, relaxed and calm when they interact with them in this way,” he said.

“Like our pets, farm animals are intelligent, sentient beings and respond well to positive interaction. And just as we communicate to animals, they too communicate with us and can actually tell us a lot about themselves and how they are feeling by the way they behave.”

The RSPCA published the survey to mark the beginning of Farm Animal Week, which kicked off today. It is also launching a new animal welfare tool, which will help farmers and Freedom Foods assessor better “listen” to the welfare needs of animals. The tool is already being used on egg farms and will be launched on dairy farms in July.