JEFFERSON, Ore. — A local herd of dairy cows won’t have to count sheep anymore to get a good night’s sleep. Instead of lying on sawdust every day, they get to relax on recently installed waterbeds.
You read that right. Waterbeds for cows.
“They’re laying on it and they just chew their cut, and that’s a happy cow,” said Van Loon Dairy Farm Co-Owner Kryn Van Loon.
A happy cow, for many reasons. For starters, the waterbeds are primarily made of rubber and water. That helps cut down on bacteria, making the cows healthier overall.
“These are nice and flat. The cows are lying a lot higher and drier. There’s a lot less stress, so you get a lot less mastitis that way,” Van Loon said.
There’s also a lot less tension on the cows’ knees and hips. That means fewer bedsores and lesions.
“They have a lot of room to lunge, they get up nice and easy, they just go forward, back, up, and then it’s a lot less stress,” Van Loon said.
The waterbeds also help balance the temperature in the stalls.
“The sawdust in the summer, if it’s got moisture in it, it can get up to 80-90 degrees in there. Whereas this cement stays a constant 40-50 degrees, winter and summer,” Van Loon said.
Employees say the whole cleanup process is pretty easy, too.
“Have to spend ten minutes max scraping next to the [waterbed] stalls and then flushing it, whereas bunch two [the sawdust stalls] I spend on bed days it’s probably almost an hour of work,” said Jeremy Van Loon.
So far, Van Loon Dairy Farm owners haven’t noticed any increase in milk production, but they hope they will soon.
They add, considering what they’re saving on diesel, medication, and bedding costs, their investment will end up paying for itself in just a few years.
Van Loon Dairy owners plan on installing the rest of the waterbeds within the next few months.