TIME was one of the first on the waterbed beat, back in 1971, and it’s our moral obligation to continue with the latest news from the front. And how far the simple waterbed has come in its 40 years. The incredibly comfortable, retro-style beds have managed to transcend mere human usage.
A new trend in American cattle-raising is leading some farmers to spend thousands of dollars on aquatic sleeping arrangements for their cows. The underlying theory goes: “Happier cows, happier milk,” as Oregon farmer Ben Van Loon told local news station KGW after purchasing nearly $100,000 in new waterbeds for his cows.
In addition to the obvious fun of plopping down on a waterbed (for any species, to be sure), the accommodations — which measure 48 inches by 80 inches and cost $260 each, according to Van Loon — also reduce sores and infections for the cows. The rubber beds will not trap moisture and grow bacteria like their traditional beds of grass seed or wood chips do. And contrary to the occasional human claim that waterbeds are bad for our backs, they’re apparently ideal for a cow’s joints.
Bovine-exclusive waterbeds are in use across the country after reportedly gaining traction in Minnesota. One cattle-specific company, Dual Chamber Cow Waterbeds, has even expanded internationally, with branches in 12 countries and recent pitches to Latin American farmers. And even though the farmers can benefit economically and environmentally, with less of a need to refresh the bedding, the sales pitch seems most glorifying to those who will actually be using the beds.
“Treat every cow like she’s the one,” the company’s website implores.
Van Loon told the Albany New Democratic earlier this month that, although he has been treating many of his 800 cows as though they were each “the one” since the beginning of this year, it is still too early to tell if the sleeping arrangements will lead to an increase in milk production. At least they’re sleeping in udder comfort.