Certainly, things looked bleak for bovines after horrific videotapes were released showing the brutal treatment of so-called "downer cows" at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Packing Co. in Chino, California. Thankfully, our local NBC affiliate gave ample warning with regard to the content, and I was able to look away, but Rick and many friends relayed to me their savage and inhumane content. Poor animals!
Happily, the suffering of those cows is not the lot of all cattle. Let me tell you, all Bossies should be as blissful as the cud-chewers hanging out at the farm of one Bill Timmons of Geauga County, Ohio! This is a man who has a soft spot in his big farmer's heart for his dairy cows. And, as a result, not only do I heart Bill Timmons, but so does his harem of lovely Holstein ladies. They've upped their milk production by more than twenty percent. Why? you may ask.
Oh, yes. You read me right: waterbeds. Timmons installed 200 of them, and the herd is happy. Ideally, a cow should spend about 12-14 hours a day lying down, chewing its cud, stimulating blood flow to the udder, making milk. Most pastures and stalls just don't provide the optimum comfort that encourages Her Highness to recline and do that. But these new bovine waterbeds, designed in the UK and recently introduced to the States, do. They're made of a tough rubber hide and contain only 14 gallons of water, so they're more of a water mattress. But they cushion the cow, provide comfort, and do not irritate the skin or the udder. "Research shows that the mattresses help keep the cows healthy, limiting hock swelling and knee and thigh scratches," said Temple Grandin, an animal-welfare expert and professor at Colorado State University.
Advance Comfort Technology, Inc. is the lone North American producer of the cow waterbed. Their website boasts the many features of its product, the least of which may not be that it is flexible, thus preventing manure buildup. I know I'm sold.
And so is Timmons. He spent $40K rehabbing his barn into a Bovine Boudoir, and he thinks it's been worth every penny in increased moo-juice production. "You take care of them and they'll take care of you," he said of his contented Dairy Queens. What a guy.