Is the welfare of the NZ and Aust dairy herds being neglected?

By Janette Woodhouse
Thursday, 22 November, 2012



Are New Zealand and Australian cows being treated more poorly than those in Russia where daylight saving has been abandonded to reduce stress on the herd?

Daylight saving was scrapped in Russia last year. The country moved its clocks forward to ‘summer time’ on 27 March 2011 and has stayed on summer time ever since. This means that when the rest of Europe returns to normal time for winter, Russia is four hours behind London rather than three. This is having a significant effect on the Russian stock market. Trades dropped 15% in the first 15 days after the rest of Europe returned to normal time at the end of October this year.

According to Rupert Neate’s article in The Guardian on 15 November, the Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, decided to scrap daylight saving because farmers complained that it upsets the rhythm of dairy cows.

Neate went on to refer to an earlier Guardian article by Tom Parfitt and James Meikle where Tatyana Rybalova, head of the research centre of Russia’s National Union of Milk Producers, said, “It’s true that cows are a lot more sensitive than humans to the changing of the clocks. I remember when daylight saving time was introduced in the Soviet times, there were protests by milkmaids in Novosibirsk and Omsk. It seemed to particularly upset the cows in Siberia.”

The same article went on to quote Arkady Tishkov, a geography professor and member of the working group that advised cancelling twice-yearly time adjustments.

“During the period of the clocks changing, the number of heart attacks increases by 50% and the number of suicides by 66%. Crime will also drop when the clocks are not put back in October because thieves are less active during daylight hours.” Tishkov added that the time adjustments provoke a litany of problems, including disruption of sleep patterns, aggravation of chronic diseases and increased traffic accidents.

Now, surely what is good for the Russian dairy herd should be good for the Australian and New Zealand herd?

In 1984, one Northland dairying community, Ararua, did stage a revolt and erected a signpost - ‘Welcome to Ararua time. Drive slowly - you’re an hour early anyway’ - but this revolt was short lived and now all New Zealand cows are forced to suffer the stress of time changes.

A bouquet should go to Queensland, which has steadfastly refused to adopt daylight saving and whose dairy herd should be considered superior because it is subjected to less stress. I wonder why they don’t use this in their marketing?

Apparently it is not only the Russian cows that don’t like time change, but the Novosibirsk and Omsk milkmaids. So now I am worrying about the Gippsland and Dairy Flat milkmaids.

I could worry some more but the sun is shining and the evening calling … I may go out and enjoy the extended daylight instead.

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