Cow waterbeds. They’re for real. In Ohio, Conrad’s Dairy Farm has been tucking their cows in on Dual Chamber Cow Waterbeds, and the farmers say the cows are happier, healthier and better milk producers.

 

USA Today reports the cow waterbeds were installed at the dairy farm last March. Since then “the quality of the cows' milk improved and the farm was able to lower its somatic cell count to about 100,000 cells per milliliter, compared with 150,000 to 200,000 cells per milliliter before the waterbeds were installed.”

 

Why is that important? Somatic cells are white blood cells that increase when a cow has an infection caused by a pathogenic bacteria, often resulting in mastitis. Mastitis is a sometimes-fatal inflammation of udder tissue. Cows with mastitis are unhealthy and often in severe pain.

 

In addition to the physical problems that a cow experiences with mastitis, milk from a cow with mastitis is lower quality. There is a decline in potassium, lactoferrin, and the protein casein in milk from cows with mastitis.

 

What about the cost of the waterbeds? Conrad Dairy Farm paid about $55,000 for the beds that pamper the 240 dairy cows. The owners spend another $15,000 for the concrete base.

 

Eventually, brothers Richard and David Conrad believe the waterbeds will pay for themselves. They save $6,000 a year on the sawdust that used to serve as cow bedding. They also charge more for the better quality milk.

 

I’m sure like me, when you saw the headline, you laughed. The thought of cows lounging around on waterbeds is funny. The end result, though, should be taken seriously. Cows are happier and healthier. Milk is better quality. And the process eventually pays for itself. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.