I just happened to look at the calendar and noticed for the umpteenth time that Sunday will bring in the dairy farmer dreaded ‘Daylight Savings’. Whoever came up with this advancement of the hour by one obviously did not think about the havoc this causes on cows.
When we milk cows, we milk twice a day. Once at 2am in the morning and then again at 2pm in the evening. The cows do not need to tell time. Their bodies are acclimated to a schedule. When the gates open at 2, whether morning or evening the cows are waiting nearby ready to race up the holding pen and into the parlor to be milked.
When you spring ahead an hour you can’t just milk the cows at 3am and 3pm and be good. Businesses acclimate for the time change and still open their stores at 9am, not 10am…and it’s not easy for us as humans to acclimate to the change any more than it is for cows. So on our dairy we too acclimate to the change…but it isn’t easy.
Even though the dairy farmer lost an hour of sleep somewhere on the clock he still has to go, now sleep deprived, and move cows, who aren’t ready to be milked an hour early, and train them to a new schedule….Then in the fall when Daylight Savings ends…they have to do it all over again…only then the cows have to wait longer to be milked. When a cow has a full udder of milk she needs to be relieved of that pressure. If a cow is not milked on schedule she could end up dealing with Mastitis: a clogging of the milk ducts, which can lead to fevers, infections, and sometimes when not caught soon enough and treated can lead to death.
On our farm to compensate for Daylight’s Savings we milk the first day a half hour later and when Daylight’s Savings ends we milk a half hour earlier. This gives the cows the ability to ease into a new schedule rather than hit them with a full hour change all at once.
So when you’re mumbling about losing an hour of sleep. Think about the dairy farmer who loses an hour of sleep, the cow who needs to be retrained, and the extra work that has to be done on a farm where every hour has its own list of chores to be done.