I’ve got to look at the big picture – the cost of production. I may get 90 lbs. per cow, but I might be spending all of that and more on labor, maintenance, and sand cost. With the waterbeds, I’ve got no maintenance, my costs are lower, so I have more money to spend on other parts of cow comfort – hoof care, reproduction, and nutrition.
Stanton Farms has more than 900 DCC Waterbeds and keeps adding more. In 2014, Stanton added DCC Waterbeds junior for his heifers. Here’s a Q&A with Michael Stanton.
Q: Why did you choose DCC Waterbeds back in 2009?
DCC Waterbeds are the best thing out there for people who don’t want to go with sand. That’s proven.
Q: Why didn’t you go with sand?
A: We didn’t want to go with sand because of the manure system. Our cows are just as comfortable as our neighbors who have sand and our production is right up there, but we’re not having to spread the manure or deal with the sand like we see down the road.
Q: What is your production?
A: We’re milking three times a day and – even with a bit of overcrowding that we have now – we are still getting 85-86 lbs. with a somatic cell count under 140,000 year round. We were actually at 87,000 [in March].
Q: When people say that you might be able to get five more pounds of milk on sand, what do you think?
A: I know could get a little more just by reducing the overcrowding, but as far as getting more milk by switching to sand – even if it did happen – I’ve got to look at the big picture – the cost of production. I may get 90 lbs. per cow, but I might be spending all of that and more on labor, maintenance, and sand cost. With the waterbeds, I’ve got no maintenance, my costs are lower, so I have more money to spend on other parts of cow comfort – hoof care, reproduction, and nutrition.
Q: How do you know the cows are comfortable on the DCC Waterbeds?
A: I’m getting good milk production, good herd health, and we have zero swollen hocks. We are a little overcrowded, but the cows are comfortable and as relaxed as they can be.
Q: What is the best thing about having DCC Waterbeds?
A: Waterbeds are simple. They’re put in the barn, and you’re done. We don’t have to repair them or refill them or worry about comfort. We have had some of them in for going on six years now, and they are just as comfortable as the day they were put in.
Q: Have you had any problems with durability?
A: We’ve put in more than 900 beds and we’ve only have five of them go flat. With the 10-year warranty, it was taken care of. They’re just a great product overall. I think they’ll last at least another 10 years.
Q: How do they compare to the flat cow mats you had in the barn before?
A: We used to have to go in and repair the old flat mats twice a year with a crew working for a week at a time to get them fixed. It was expensive and time consuming, and still those flat mats were packed down and not that comfortable for the cows.
Q: What is your cleaning and top bedding routine?
A: We go in and scrape the ends of the beds during every milking, so three times a day, and then about once a day we put in some kiln dried sawdust to absorb any wetness.
Q: Why did you choose to install junior beds for your heifers?
A: Again, it’s so easy on maintenance. Put the waterbeds in and your done practically forever. We go in and bed them once a week. I’m hoping that the waterbeds in the heifer barn will help them have an even easier transition to the free stall barn because they’ve gotten used to them in the heifer facility.