5 Reasons NOT to Choose DCC Waterbeds

Michigan State University’s Kellogg research farm has DCC Waterbeds in the barn as part of its grazing system.

Michigan State University’s Kellogg research farm has DCC Waterbeds in the barn as part of its grazing system.

We sell DCC Waterbeds because we believe in them. We know they’re comfortable and our customers are saving time and money once they make the switch. But we also know that bedding is part of a total farm management system, so they might not make sense for you.

We thought we would take a second to stop and think about why you shouldn’t install DCC Waterbeds.

1. You have installed a new sand bedding system and your sand supply is free or cheap

Your system is set up for sand – you have the machines to move it into the barn and out of the manure system, you have the staff to maintain the stalls properly to prevent bacterial growth, you’ve built separating lanes, a sand-ready manure pit, and bought a separator system. It is working. Your cows are comfortable. You are happily getting a return on the investments.

At this point, the expense of sand bedding (sand costs, equipment capital, repairs, fuel, labor) is something you’re prepared to pay as part of your cow comfort system.

When you might consider a change:

  • Your equipment ages and needs replacing
  • You cannot hire reliable labor or wages increases
  • Your cost for materials (diesel fuel, water, electricity, sand) increases

We hope you’ll consider DCC Waterbeds when you’re looking for a change and talk to one (or a dozen) of farmers who have made the switch.

2. Your cow mats are in decent condition

You made an investment in cow mats of some kind. The up front cost was within your budget when you needed new bedding, and you’ve found a top bedding that works with your system. The cows are comfortable.

When you might consider a change:

  • You notice the mat rips or the material inside packs down.
  • You have to add more top bedding to provide cushion and a soft surface.
  • As the mattresses pack down, they become less comfortable for the cows, leading to problems with hock swelling or hoof health

When you decide it’s time to go shopping for manmade bedding solutions, we hope you’ll consider how DCC Waterbeds differ from traditional cow mats.

3. You graze your animals 90 percent of the time

Your investment is in the land and system that supports grazing. They are in the barn briefly, a few months or weeks a year, so you are managing the in-barn bedding for a very short time.

When you might consider a change:

  • You are looking for a low-maintenance bedding for your barn for those times that the cows are indoors.
  • You want something durable and comfortable, but allows you to leave the cows alone while they are in the barn.

If you are looking for a bedding solution in your barn that will keep your cows comfortable and on their own schedule, while continuing to be low-maintenance, consider how DCC Waterbeds can be a part of your grazing operation.

4. You can afford to pay for bedding once a month, but are not in a position to invest a large sum or get financing at this point just for bedding.

This is the reality for many dairies, and we understand the difficult choices you have to make each month and year to meet the needs of your farm and family.

When you might consider a change:

  • You are at a point where you are ready to bundle multiple large improvements on the farm and do one major project at once.

Many of our customers are in the process of expanding, renovating, starting from scratch, or preparing the farm to transfer to the next generation. It is often easier to incorporate DCC Waterbeds into your farm when you’re taking a look at the entire system and bundling everything into one improvement loan or construction project.

5. There isn’t much research about DCC Waterbeds. All the research says cows are the most comfortable on sand bedding

You’re right. When sand is compared to traditional flat cow mats, cows are more comfortable on sand bedding. There are two important things to remember: DCC Waterbeds are not flat mats AND only one head-to-head study comparing sand to DCC Waterbeds has been done. The one study that compared in-barn results between sand and DCC Waterbeds says that DCC Waterbeds perform on par with sand. That is: the cows are just as comfortable.

When you might consider a change:

Why isn’t there more research?

Frankly, we can’t afford it. We haven’t been approached by a university who wants to study DCC Waterbeds and compare them with sand bedding without having ACT fund the study. Research is expensive, and we’re a small family-owned business, so we have to invest our funds wisely, too. We have invested a modest amount of money in a study at the University of Kentucky comparing DCC Waterbeds to traditional crumb-rubber cow mats. Sand was not possible at the UK’s dairy for this study.

A side note:

You may see reference to a 1999 study that compares sand bedding, mattresses and single-chamber waterbeds. Single-chamber beds have not been sold by any company in North America since 2003, so those results cannot be substituted for the performance of DCC Waterbeds. DCC Waterbeds replaced the single-chamber bed to provide cushioning to the cow’s front knees when she lays down and gets up.