"Happy cows make happy milk," says dairy cow farmer Ben Van Loon of the Van Loon Dairy in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. After buying waterbeds for 100 cows in January, the Van Loon family just spent $100,000 more to outfit 200 more cows with waterbeds. Those cows must be making some seriously happy milk....
The waterbed trend for dairy cows started in Britain about seven years ago and soon came to the U.S. From Minnesota to other states in the Midwest, the beds are now found among a dozen or so dairy farms in the west, but Van Loon has made a serious investment in them.
The waterbeds are not only more comfy for cows, giving them fewer aches and pains from pressure points, but they are also cleaner than other cow bedding, resisting the bacteria that typically accumulates between cows and their beds.
"Moisture and heat are your two enemies. Bacteria doesn't really grow on any rubber," Van Loon told a KSDK reporter.
Van Loon was taking cows off the milk line every six months before he outfitted them with waterbeds, and that was because of bacterial infections on their skin. Taking cows off line is costly to farmers, but with the waterbeds, Van Loon expects to take maybe one cow off line every six months, rather that six or seven cows, saving him, he expects, several thousand dollars.
The cows are happy, the milk is happy, and the waterbeds, Van Loon expects, will soon pay for themselves.
Ready for another happy cow story? Read about the dairy cow wash!