New Salem Dairy Farm Installs Water Beds for Cows - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

New Salem Dairy Farm Installs Water Beds for Cows

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There's nothing quite like a good nights sleep.
One dairy farmer is making sure his cows are well rested and ready to milk. 
Ag Reporter Sarah Gustin takes you inside the barn for the story.

North of New Salem there are some very happy cows.
(Derrick Rusch / Dairy Producer) "Cow comfort is the main thing. If the cow isn't comfortable she isn't going to milk."
Derrick Rusch is a third generation dairy farmer.
For years the herd has laid on a foam mattress--but after those went flat it was time for an upgrade.
These cows now have a new bed to rest their head.
(Derrick Rusch / Dairy Producer) "We went with the waterbeds because they seems to be the best fit for our farm. They are pretty maintenance free. We can cut down on our bedding and save some money that way and hopefully just not have the maintenance with them like we did with the other ones." 
Rusch says they used to grind 30 straw bales every 2-3 months for bedding.
He says this new investment should cut their straw need in half.
(Derrick Rusch / Dairy Producer) "There is just that much more comfort for the cow. We don't have to put the straw down for the comfort for the cow anymore like we used to."
No doubt these ladies need the rest--three times a day they come in the barn to be milked.
(Sarah Gustin / sgustin@kxnet.com) "North Dakota is the home to roughly 113 dairy farms, milking roughly 18-thousand cows. The North Dakota Ag Department says the Rusch Dairy Farm is the only one in the state to be using water beds."
Rusch says it takes about 14 gallons of water to "float" a cow.
(Derrick Rusch / Dairy Producer) "It is suppose to be the best for what they all hock rub when cows lay down and she's moving around they move with the cows so it doesn't rub on her legs."
Well the price tag isn't small--more than 200 dollars a stall, the expected lifetime isn't too small either.
(Derrick Rusch / Dairy Producer) "They should last 10 years for sure, hopefully they have had them in other places up to 20. so hopefully if we can get that life out of them, it will be worth it."
You can't put a price tag on a happy cow.

The cows have only been using the beds for roughly a month and a half and Rusch says he's already seeing improvement in cow health and production.
He says the waterbeds are also easier to clean and once the beds are installed they are nearly maintenance free.

 

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