Case studies: See how much money DCC Waterbeds are saving these dairy producers

The cost of DCC Waterbeds varies widely based on quantities, sizes, product type, installation needs, and other factors. A fair estimate in order to make a rough calculation is $300 per stall, but the long life expectancy, low maintenance, and cow comfort benefits make them a smart investment. 

DCC Waterbeds have an industry-leading 10-year limited warranty in a free stall barn. The life expectancy of the beds is 20 years. Many producers think they’ll last even longer, and we hear over and over again that the waterbeds have “paid for themselves” in as little as three years.

With operating costs climbing, you can save money without sacrificing cow comfort. 

Figures we use based on general estimates and research:

  • DCC Waterbeds: $260 per stall (or $13 per stall, per year prorated over our 20-year life expectancy)
  • Concrete underlay (if needed): $50 per stall
  • Sand: $70 per stall per year based on information from the University of Wisconsin's Dairyland Initiative
  • Mattresses: Vary between $100 and $250 per stall or $14-$35 per stall, per year prorated over an average 10-year life expectancy
  • Deep bedding materials such as sawdust: Varies by location
  • Labor hours: $15 per hour based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Please note that these examples include rough estimates from testimonials and research. Your individual cost calculations and installation costs will vary.

SAND BEDDING

  • Savings over 10 years: $175,000+
  • Break-even point: 4 years or less on materials alone  (Based on a 500-cow dairy)

According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Dairyland Initiative, bedding costs for fresh sand bedding purchased is approximately $70 per stall, per year.  The cost of bedding a 500-cow dairy on sand bedding is estimated at $35,000 per year. The cost of installing the DCC Waterbed system would be approximately $135,000 ($220 per stall, plus $50 per concrete base) and uses $2,500 per year in sawdust (optional).

In about five years, the sand barn and the DCC Waterbed barn will have cost the same amount when JUST calculating the cost of the sand bedding. This does not include an estimated $5,000 to $10,000 per year in fuel, manure handling equipment repair, labor for raking stalls, or sand-manure separating equipment purchases or repair!

Starting in year six, by switching to DCC Waterbeds, the dairy will save $175,000 over a 10-year time period in the cost of materials alone, not counting labor and equipment cost savings!

SAWDUST

  • Savings over 10 years: $94,500+
  • Break-even point: 3 years or less on materials alone  (Based on a 200-cow dairy)

A farmer in Vermont spends $1,600 per month bedding his 200 cows in kiln-dried sawdust. That is $18,000 per year in bedding materials. The cost to install DCC Waterbeds in his farm, including the concrete base that isn't yet poured, is $54,000 ($270 per stall, $220 per DCC Waterbed and $50 for concrete). This dairy producer chooses to put a small amount of sawdust on top of his beds, but approximately ¼ of his prior use. This cost is $4,500 per year.

The dairy will completely pay for the beds in just four years, and save approximately $13,000 per year in bedding costs for the rest of the 15 to 20-year life expectancy of the DCC Waterbeds – a savings of more than $80,000 over 10 years.

MANURE SOLIDS

  • Savings over 10 years: $260,000
  • Break-even point: 5 years or less on labor  (Based on a 1,000-cow dairy)

A producer in California used to spend $52,000 per year on a full-time employee dedicated to bedding his 1,000 cows in sun-dried manure solids. He estimates that he spent $5,000 in fuel and repairs on his manure moving and raking equipment each year.

He spent $270,000 installing DCC Waterbeds in the 1,000 stalls ($270 per stall), because he had to put down concrete as well. However, because he was able to eliminate labor, fuel, and repairs, he paid for his DCC Waterbeds in just five years! The beds were installed in 2006, and he estimates that he is now saving more than $57,000 in labor and operating costs each year – and the six-year old beds are as good as the day they were installed.

He expects them to last at least another six years, if not longer – saving him more than $300,000 in the next decade.

COW MATS / MATTRESSES

  • Savings over 10 years: $45,000 - $75,000
  • Break-even point: 4 years or less (Based on a 500-cow dairy)

A farmer in Michigan has 500 cow mats (crumb-rubber mattresses) in one barn and 500 DCC Waterbeds in the other.  The cost of installing the cow mat system was $60,000. The cost of installing the DCC Waterbed system was approximately $90,000. However, the cow mats use $10,000 per year in sawdust, and the DCC Waterbeds use just $2,500 per year in sawdust. In four years, the mat barn and the DCC Waterbed barn will have cost exactly the same amount to operate, and starting in year five, the mat barn will actually be costing the farmer $7,500 per year MORE than the DCC Waterbed barn.

Additionally, DCC Waterbeds last twice as long as mattresses because they do not pack like a traditional mattress. The farmer’s mattresses are six years old and are packing and requiring even more sawdust with each passing year. He expects to have to replace them soon, whereas the DCC Waterbeds will not need to be replaced for 15 to 20 years. So, installing mattresses twice in 15 years would cost $120,000, whereas installing DCC Waterbeds once in 15 years only costs $90,000 – this equals a savings of  $45,000 in sawdust alone over 10 years, and an additional savings of $30,000 if the farmer had to replace the mattresses inside of 10 years!