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Utter comfort: Cows lying on waterbeds promotes milk production

Updated: Thursday, July 25 2013, 07:39 AM CDT
Reported by Kirk Clyatt

FRANKLIN COUNTY -- Every person and animal needs rest and often the more rest you get the better you can perform and the same can be said for dairy cattle, the better quality rest the more milk.

That why across Pennsylvania, 9,000 cows are now sleeping on water beds.

"We have about 250,000 waterbeds in 20 countries, said Ernie Bert, the local distributor for DCC Waterbeds. Dual-Chamber Cow Waterbeds, a year ago more than 100 were installed at Darrell Martin's farm in Greencastle, Franklin County and the Holsteins seem to like them.

Our Kirk Clyatt had a chance to check out the beds with the cows, "I'm big, but these cows are seven times my size. You want to keep them comfortable and happy. Water it's amazing it only takes 14 gallons to support a 1,600 pound cow or a 240 pound man."

The more rest for the cows, the more milk. Like some people, the cows like to stay off their hooves as much as possible, about 12 to 14 hours a day.

"The dairy cow will make the majority of her milk laying down, so the longer we can keep her in her stall lying down producing milk, the better it is for the farmer," according to Ernie Bert.

In PA there are 500,000 dairy cows and about 9,000 of those lucky ladies get to enjoy their days and nights on waterbed comfort.

Ernie Bert elaborated, "when she lays down those pressure points can create swelling, abrasions, sores, but on a waterbed were floating the cow."

For a large herd like the one we visited, its not practical to have the animals go out to pasture, so the waterbed can be a huge help. The cost of waterbed is about $200 each, but farmers make back that expense with additional milk production.

"These are all inside, typically in a freestyle barn so the cows have free choice of what bed they lay on,” Bert added.

I think some do have a set bed that they like to sleep on.

“The beds are very consistent in the fact that they are going to be the same ten years from now as the day we put them in. Same comfort level for the cow and cows love consistency," said Bert.

So Wednesday night into Thursday in PA do you think more cows or people will be sleeping on a water bed?

Bert chuckled, "I would guess cows maybe? I'm not sure how popular waterbeds are any more, but they sure are popular for cows."

These cows are a huge investment worth thousands of dollars each, so you really do want to keep them happy as the average cow is producing over 10 gallons of milk a day.

As one manufacturer puts it, "you want to make every cow feel like she is the one," and of course enjoying utter comfort.

For more information on the waterbeds, click here:   Utter comfort: Cows lying on waterbeds promotes milk production

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