Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's a Cow's Life

            For months I have been hearing about Norway’s superior chocolate, pastries, scenery, and cleanliness.  But now our daughter, serving a mission there, has written with the all-time topper:  Norway’s cows each get their own mattress.

            I am not sure if this mattress comes with its own fitted sheet (probably not), or if it is Queen-sized (undoubtedly), or what the average cow’s Sleep Number is, but this policy is why Nicole thinks they have tastier yogurt over there.  I had to look it up.  Sure enough, the Ministry of Agriculture passed this law, and believes that Happy Heifers give 5% more milk. Some claim it improves the quality of milk, as well.

            Reuters quoted Lars Erik Ruud as saying that cows lie about for half the day, and production is definitely up, thanks to their new, relaxed lifestyle.  

Well, of course this makes one wonder, why stop at only 5%?  Why not make a dairy farm the picture of stress-free living?  Why not bring in caterers who specialize in corn and  grass-based confections, to keep the cows from getting up at all?  How about a masseuse or two, who make the rounds, (stepping gingerly, of course)?  

 And how about some pretty curtains, wafting in the breeze?  No self-respecting cow should live without window treatments, after all.  And don’t even get me started about the aromatherapy that could be a boon in these dairy farms. 
Norway isn’t alone.  It turns out they’re also trying this in Northern Ireland, where one company has been awarded a grant “to improve the horizontal quality of life for farm animals,” producing various mats and pillows.  If a comfy night’s rest puts us in better spirits, why not a comfy day’s rest, too?  And, yes, the United States has followed suit.  While it’s not the law here (yet), there are mats to be had from enterprising companies who are milking this for all it’s worth. 

Have you ever gone mattress shopping?  The choices are basically firm or soft, right?  Maybe you can get an air-filled one or a foam one versus one with coils, but that about sums it up.  Not so for the lucky cow. 
Barbara Wadsworth and Jeffrey Bewley, at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, have analyzed a virtual smorgasbord of bovine choices.  There are rubber mats, gel mats, rubber filled mattresses, and ones made from recycled manure solids.  There are deep-bedded sawdust stalls and sand stalls.  There are even—hold onto your udders, folks—dual chamber waterbeds for cows. The more luxurious the choice, the better the milk, the healthier your cow will be, and the longer it will live, as well.  In all, I’d say it’s a good time in history to be a cow.

There’s only one drawback to this pampered living.  Ruud says the cows’ hooves don’t naturally wear down as they would if they were rubbing against concrete.  But don’t tell me you can’t solve that one— and create new jobs at the same time.  I can see a fleet of manicurists for cows, buffing and filing to their heart’s content.   

Maybe they could even offer a choice of colored nail polish.  Mooroon would probably be popular.
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