Waterbeds Installed at Foremost  11/02/18 2:24:06 PM

A lot has changed at the University of Missouri’s Foremost Dairy farm since the initial generous donation of a herd of Guernsey cattle and land by James Cash (J.C.) Penney in the 1950’s. 

J.C. Penney would likely never have anticipated that one day the cows at Foremost Dairy would be sleeping on dual-chambered cow waterbeds.
 
In the early 1990s the free stall barn that still houses approximately 180 Holstein and 20 Guernsey milking cows were built and had mattresses installed for cow comfort. The mats were replaced about 8-10 years ago were showing their wear, and needed to be replaced.
 
“We had cows standing too long in the stalls. We want to minimize that," said Dr. Scott Poock, Associate Extension Professor. “We were looking for something that would give us better cow comfort. Our next step is to the waterbeds.”
 
When they researched the dual-chambered cow waterbed, Dr. Poock said, “We believe that the waterbed will be a little more giving than a mattress would be, and will provide her with better footing.”
 
Eighty dual-chambered cow waterbeds (DCC Waterbeds) were installed in half of the free stall barn on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 16 and 17.

"We did replace half of the barn.  We do have a second newer barn that is sand bedding that houses dry or lactating cows depending on the time of the year, " said Dr. Poock. 
 
At the time of writing, it has been one week since the transition, and one thing that has surprised Dr. Poock is how quickly the cows adapted to the stalls.
 
“Even on the first day they put the waterbeds in, I was really pleased with how quickly the cows went into the stalls,” Dr. Poock said. "We were warned that it might take some time, but we’re very happy with how quickly they have taken to the beds."
 
The free stall barn now has half of the barn with dual-chambered waterbeds and half of the barn with mattresses.
 
Before installing the dual-chambered waterbeds, Dr. Poock recorded time-lapse camera and video footage of lying time, and the Animal Science students did hock scoring on the herd, so Dr. Poock believes they will have good before and after data points.
 
The cows will move between old mats and the waterbeds so it will be hard to draw too many firm conclusions on hock scoring alone, but Dr. Poock is focused on “the bigger, better picture is how well are they lying down.”

 
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