A Thank-You Note for June Dairy Month

Dairy farming is a complicated business with hundreds of moving pieces – and thousands of choices for a producer to make from brand of truck to breed of cow. Sales people seem to be constantly calling on your farm hoping you’ll try their offering.

At DCC Waterbeds, we appreciate every time you click on our website, every time you send us an email, every time you ask your neighbor how the DCC Waterbeds are working out, and every minute you spare to talk to us or one of our dealers. We know you have thousands of things do decide and another thousand things to do today, so thank you for taking a minute to learn about us.

Pass your third-party audit with zero hock sores

Barn audits by milk processors or evaluations for certifications that you seek as a dairy producer are becoming more frequent and more intense as consumer demand is setting standards for dairy practices and herd health. More and more frequently, we hear from our customers who have recently been audited because they want to share their excellent audit experiences. 

In December a dairyman in Montana reached out to tell us that their auditor, who was also a veterinarian and nutritionist, already knew that the herd would be exceptional based on her experience seeing DCC Waterbeds at other dairies. Only 15 of the dairy’s 180 cows, the older cows, had slight hair loss, compared to 20%+ when the cows were on mats. He recounted the struggles he had with open sores, hair loss, and lameness on his previous flat-mat bedding.

This producer is one of many who report zero hock sores and high levels of cow comfort.

“We are part of a specialty milk program, so we have to be inspected each year [by a third party]. One of their stipulations was we have to have at least four inches of bedding if you have mattresses, and we use none. So, we didn’t think we were going to pass,” said Larry Baer of Marshalville, Ohio. Baer has 500 DCC Waterbeds. “The inspector came the first year and had never heard about waterbeds. She showed up at the farm at 9:30 in the morning and didn’t leave until 4 p.m. She looked at the barn, the facilities, the schedule, and closely at the cows. When we got the report back, we had passed with flying colors. We scored very, very high.”

The same story came out of Michigan: 

“In 2012 when we went through the Michigan Milk Producers Association verification of cow comfort, we had just one cow out of 140 with markings and bruising on her hocks, but her twin sister had the same problem so it might have been a genetic thing. The rest of our cows have no bruising on their hocks,” said Steve Foley of Millington, Michigan. Foley has 336 DCC Waterbeds for his milking herd and heifers. “Also, they found that 99 percent of the cows show a normal locomotion and were standing properly. A lot of our cows are lying down, which tells you that they’re comfortable out there.”

It is a testament to the comfort of DCC Waterbeds that these outside consultants and evaluators are coming in and supporting what we know to be true with the data to back it up.

We continue to work to share the benefits of DCC Waterbeds with auditors and other industry professionals, so we can continue to help connect the dots between cow comfort, hock health, and DCC Waterbeds.

DCC Waterbeds stay dry and comfortable all year round

People frequently ask us, do DCC Waterbeds freeze? Well, they can if left out in the elements. The truth is, in a barn with a stocking density around 1:1, the cows use of the beds ensures that they don’t freeze, even in below zero temperatures.


Rubber is a good insulator, holding in the cows’ body heat, and the water temperature is raised to a consistent, comfortable level, ensuring soft waterbeds during the winter months.

What about in a barn with a lower stocking density or in drafty areas of the barn?

If your stocking density drops in the winter, we suggest blocking off stalls to keep a 1:1 ratio, so the beds stay warm.

Cows generally won’t lay down in an exceptionally cold or drafty area of the barn, regardless of the stall surface. So ensure your barn is as buttoned up as it can be for the season.

If there are still stalls that are going to be exposed, we can recommend a non-toxic anti-freezing liquid to add to specific beds at a ratio of 1 gallon anti-freezing liquid to every 3 gallons water.

If DCC Waterbeds do happen to freeze in an empty barn, they are durable and it will not affect their future performance.

Brookfield Zoo in Chicago Installs DCC Waterbeds for Baird's Tapir

What’s a Baird’s tapir?

We had to look it up, too! The Baird’s tapir is a small African hoofed mammal.

The team at Brookfield Zoo, a Chicago Zoological Society facility, looked to the dairy industry for a comfortable bedding solution to help relieve joint discomfort being experienced by their 26-year-old Baird’s tapir, Jezabel. In the Fall 2015 Gateways magazine, published by the zoological society for members, a short article talks about Jezabel’s experience:

In just a few short weeks, they saw improvements for her pressure points, and the team is considering offering waterbeds to all our tapirs, rhinos, and giraffes. Plus, the veterinarians may obtain a portable waterbed for hospital patients.

We’re so excited the Jezabel, and other Brookfield Zoo species, can benefit from the comfort provided by DCC Waterbeds.

Keep Beds Dry with Less Top Bedding, Improve Air Quality

Cow cooling is important for cow comfort, and so is cow bedding. However, when cooling with powerful fans and using mattresses that require top bedding to maintain optimal levels of comfort, more problems are created than solved: [fansm]

  • Limited visibility in the barn
  • Respiration trouble for the cows
  • More maintenance issues with the fans

The solution: stop using top bedding during the warm, dry summer months.

DCC Waterbeds require little to no additional bedding to maintain high levels of cow comfort, protect the hocks, and stay dry and clean – especially in a barn with a nice breeze pushing air at 5-10 mph.

Try cutting top bedding back with traditional cow mats and you may find comfort issues and hock problems.

Dan Diederich and Terry Stammen both have DCC Waterbeds and powerful fans in the barn for the perfect cooling and comfort combination. 

Beds stay dry with no bedding

“We bed one time every three weeks, and only from November to March. In the summer we don’t bed at all. We have fans in the new barn and we didn’t know how we would keep bedding on them in the summer [with the fans on], so we just don’t. They stay dry except on really humid days.

- Terry Stammen, Ohio | 308 DCC Waterbeds

Just a handful of bedding

“We use a light dusting of chopped straw on top of the waterbeds each day. Literally when we bed we use 15-gallon barrels with the tops cut off full of chopped straw and toss a handful on top of each waterbed,” said Daniel Diederich of Diederich Farm.

 - Diederich Farm LLC, Wisconsin  | 280 DCC Waterbeds, cross-ventilated barn

Diederich's top bedding equates to approximately 1/3 lb. of straw per stall per day, or 15 tons of straw per year for the 280 stalls. The cross-ventilated 8-row barn has 30, 55-inch, 3-blade high-efficiency fans, creating a consistent 8-mph breeze on hot days.

The low bedding works well the 8-mph breeze in the barn preventing the bedding from blowing around.

“[Bedding] takes hardly any time at all,” said Diedeich. “In terms of comfort, we’ve been audited for animal welfare and we scored as good or better than any sand herd. We have zero hock lesions.”