Happy Cows Unwind on Waterbeds

Iowa dairy farmer Kirk Christie spoils his bovine “girls” with waterbeds, a flat-screen TV, and a brand-new barn. The beds, rubber mats filled with water and covered with wood chips, keep his cows warm in winter and cool in summer. And according to CNN, Christie believes that these creature comforts are totally worth their cost of approximately $200 per bed:

Christie estimates his cows’ milk production has increased 10 percent since he installed the waterbeds. He figured a flat-screen TV couldn’t hurt, either, so the cows are spending the spring snoozing in their beds and enjoying ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,’ ‘Dr. Phil’ and other shows.

Christie claims that the television helps the cows “get used to different voices,” so they no longer get nervous when strangers visit their barn. A study released by Colorado State University found that waterbeds are more comfy for cows than mattresses, which are generally cheaper, but nobody’s looked into the effects of Oprah on milk production. (Not yet, anyway.)

When I mentioned this story to my Grinder colleague James Norton, he said:

On that note, last week I toured an Amish farm where they (naturally) still hand-milk all the cows and, while milking, sing to them in German. Word is that the cows produce a pretty rich milk, in terms of butterfat and protein content.

It seems like happy cows don’t necessarily need newfangled technology—but it doesn’t hurt to coax them with a little TLC.