Moove That Clock

This headline on the San Francisco Chronicle website caught my eye: “Daylight-Saving Not Good for Cows.” “Oh, ha, ha,” thought I. “Those silly Chron writers.” Then I read the article:

Doug Beretta, who runs an organic dairy farm in Santa Rosa, always welcomes the spring arrival of daylight-saving time. His cows, on the other hand, have a bigger problem with the switchover, which this year starts on Sunday.

Normally, see, Beretta milks his 300 cows at 2 a.m. When spring daylight-saving comes, this normal time becomes 3 a.m. But the bigger issue is the time change in the fall. “When you move it back, those cows are holding that milk for an extra hour, so you can run into some health problems,” Beretta explains.

Dairy farmers have been battling daylight-saving time since it was first introduced, based on its influence on cows. From a 1941 Time Magazine article:

The President called for daylight saving as a national defense measure. A mighty man is Franklin Roosevelt … but last week he bumped spang up against something Joshua didn’t have to contend with: the psyche of the U.S. cow.

Among objections to his proposal that were voiced last week was the assertion that the cow is no dull creature of sodden disposition, but a delicately organized mass of nerves, easily wrought up to the point of not giving down; a sudden upset, such as an hour’s change in the milking time, might make a cow tense, thereby impairing the flow of milk necessary for national defense. Cows do indeed take a few days to get used to such a change, but their discomfort is nowhere nearly so great or so enduring as that of farmers. In wintertime dairy farmers already rise while it is dark, and under daylight saving they will have to rise and begin their work still earlier, in the coldest part of the night.

Cecil Adams of the Straight Dope says this is all hogwash, and farmers are idiots.

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