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Comfy Cattle

Do you want better-tasting milk? How about the finest cheese products available? All you have to do is buy your neighborhood dairy cow a waterbed.

Strange, But True

One of the newest inventions in dairy farming is a special waterbed for cows. The invention is based on the common belief that cattle produce more milk when they are comfortable. Though no scientific evidence exists to support that claim, the beds do make cleaning up after cows less of a chore for farmers. Urine and manure run off the beds whenever the cows move around.

Research: They Like the Bed

The beds, which cost about $150 each, are made in the Netherlands and Great Britain. They have been used in Europe for 10 or 11 years, mostly for dairy cattle. They first showed up in the United States about six years ago, in the New York-Pennsylvania area and the Midwest. Now farmers in the West are buying them.

Farmers report their cows are definitely fond of the beds. They say cows like snoozing on the waterbeds so much they often wait in line for an empty one.

Researchers at an agricultural testing station in Germany backed up that claim. They say that when given a choice, most of the sleepy cows they studied decided to lie down on the waterbed. Not only does the mattress rock gently because it is filled with water, but it also molds to the shape of a cow's body and reduces stress on cows' joints. Cows sleep for six to eight hours a day, and these cows clearly enjoy this luxurious way of dozing!

Anything for a Contented Cow

“We're real interested in making our cows more comfortable,” one farmer from New York State said. “Everybody is trying to pamper their cows these days because anything that makes a cow more comfortable increases her happiness and productivity.”