Collins Dairy Focused on Comfort for 3+ Lactation Cows

"You're always saving money when you make a smart investment." 

When the Collins family built two new free stall barns in 2009, they knew the walk back and forth to the parlor was longer than usual, so they knew they needed a comfortable bedding surface to ensure their cows were lying down in between milkings. 

“Our parlor is quite a walk from the waterbed barns, but the cows are very well rested so the walk doesn’t really bother them,” said Brittany VanderKinter, daughter of dairy owners Kevin and Lisa Collins. Brittany and her sister, Eileen Webster, work full time on the family’s farm.

Collins Dairy LLC in Greenleaf, Wisc., installed 430 DCC Waterbeds in two new barns in 2009 and 2010 because they believed the waterbeds would be good for cow comfort and leg health.

“The strengths of the DCC Waterbeds are seen in the comfort they give to the legs and the hocks,” said Brittany. “I don’t see bedsores on our cows, which you do see in mattresses. Also, our larger animals find it easier to get up on the waterbeds.”

Collins Dairy has a rotating herd with young animals mixed in with 3+ lactation cows who need extra comfort.

“Our older cows need that extra comfort on their feet, body, and big udders. These cows are the money makers, so we are focused on keeping them comfortable,” said Brittany. “The DCC Waterbeds do that.”

In the older facilities on the farm, the cows are bedded on mattresses filled with foam and crumb rubber. Both the mattresses and the waterbeds are topped with sawdust twice a week.

“A regular mattress can buckle and the canvas starts to tear, so you get a bunching effect over time,” said Brittany. “That doesn’t happen with the waterbeds; they don’t pack down. As long as the stall length is correct for the size of animal, DCC Waterbeds are really easy to maintain. Our older mattresses use more sawdust for comfort and are more maintenance because we are always watching for repairs.”

Collins Dairy has improved the overall comfort on the farm with the new free stall barns, fan ventilation systems, and DCC Waterbeds, and production has increased from the positive improvements. 

“Our cows like the waterbed barns,” said Brittany. “And there isn’t much wear and tear at all on the beds. I think the DCC Waterbeds will last double the amount of normal mattresses.”

With a large number of 3+ lactation cows, a somatic cell count ranging between 103,000 – 120,000, and healthy, comfortable cows overall, Collins Dairy is obviously making smart investments in cow comfort and herd management practices, and DCC Waterbeds are proud to be part of their system.

“You’re always saving money if you make a smart investment,” said Brittany. “We have seen a small savings every day, and that adds up. Everything comes in to play, like the increased price of sawdust, the longer lying times, less mastitis, the comfort of the cows overall. DCC Waterbeds have definitely been a smart investment in cow comfort.”