MOUNT ANGEL, Ore. (AP) -- They say happy cows are more productive cows. Arie Jongeneel is hoping his herd of Holsteins, resplendent on their water beds, will bring forth a dairy deluge.
In his quest to bump up production, Jongeneel, a dairy farmer for 32 years, is joining farmers in Europe and elsewhere who say such bovine pampering pays off.
Jongeneel, who began experimenting with 15 specially made water beds in January, said he is ordering 80 more for his 1,600 cows in Oregon's lush Willamette Valley.
"If it's better for the cows it will increase milk production, there's no doubt about that," Jongeneel said.
On a recent afternoon at his farm, eight or nine Holsteins lounged on the water beds, looking thoughtful as they chewed their cud. The water beds -- rubber bladders filled with 18 gallons of water and covered with thick rubber mats -- undulated when the 1,400-pound cows shifted their weight.
By conforming to the shape of the cows, the theory goes, the beds give the animals a more comfortable rest. Distributors claim the beds reduce wear and tear on the cows' joints and prevent swelling and burning of hocks.
The Dutch- and British-made water beds have been in use in Europe for seven or eight years, mostly for dairy cattle. They began appearing in the New York-Pennsylvania area and the Midwest about three years ago, and are catching on in the West.
"The cows liked it right away," said Jongeneel. "They laid right down and were comfortable."
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