Time changes can leave dairy cows udderly unimpressed, farmer says

There's a lot of grumbling over the switch between daylight time every year — and perhaps a bit of unhappy mooing, too. 

On Sunday, most provinces move their clocks ahead one hour. However, there's evidence that the twice-yearly time changes may not be as beneficial as initially thought. (For example, a study released Wednesday said although daylight time was introduced as a way to save energy, it can have the opposite affect.)

And while humans might be the only species who use an alarm clock, we're not the only ones who are impacted by the time change. 

At Conrad Van Hierden's Hilltop Dairy farm near Fort MacLeod, Alta., "everything changes" when the clocks go forward or back. 

"Cows are very habitual animals, they get into their routines, and when you change anything in their schedule, it's an adjustment," Van Hierden told the Calgary Eyeopener. 

Springing forward on Sunday will have more of an impact on the farmers — the early risers will need to get up at what feels like an earlier time in the morning. But it's in October, when the clocks fall back, that cattle are most impacted. 

"They're used to getting up and going to the barn at a certain time of day," Van Hierden said. "When they have to hold their milk for an extra whole hour when we do the time change, it's hard on them."

When he or his employees arrives at the barn, the impatience is palpable, he continued. 

"They'll be in the barn waiting and they'll be mooing at you and saying, 'come on, we want to get milked,'" he said. "Once they're full, they're full, and they want to get milked."

To make it easier on the creatures of habit, Van Hierden says his farm makes the change gradually — 15 minutes a day for four days. 

To change or not to change

Last month, Edmonton MLA Thomas Dang, launched public consultations on whether to end daylight time. PC MLA Richard Starke has presented a petition calling for the same thing.

"I think we don't mind the daylight savings time, but the changeover is a lot of work," Van Hierden said, but added that he wouldn't mind if the province did away with the practice.

"I think people could adjust their day accordingly, I don't mind the long evenings," he said. "Saskatchewan's never changed it and they get by just fine."

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With files from the Calgary Eyeopener