The best milk demands healthy and happy cows, and one Ohio dairy farm has taken this mantra to heart by providing their cows with customised waterbeds.
Conrad's Dairy Farm installed waterbeds for its ruminants in March, and according to the Associated Press (AP) the farm's owners, brothers Richard and David Conrad, said that the cows were a little unnerved because they weren't used to putting their hooves onto the thick rubber bladders that hold the water.
After investing a cool $70,000 in waterbeds topped with sawdust and lime, and concrete foundations, the brothers reportedly estimate that the beds could provide a payback within three years due to higher prices for better quality milk and yearly savings of $6,000.
The Conrads said the farm had been able to lower its somatic cell count (white blood cells that increase in response to pathogens) to around 100,000 cells per milliliter, compared to 150,000-200,000 cells before the waterbeds were installed, indicating better milk quality.
According to the AP, waterbeds for cows originated in Europe 15-20 years ago and were popularised in the US by Wisconsin-based Advanced Comfort Technology, which patented its dual-chamber cow waterbeds in 2003 and have since sold them worldwide.
Supporters claim the beds protect cows' front knees and rear hocks, help eliminate sores and promote better health.