Is Milk From a Waterbed Better?

Is Milk From a Waterbed Better?

Here’s the latest in weird, is it cruel or is it just psycho news: a Glastonbury, Somerset farmer has been using waterbeds to help his cows make better milk. Robert Clapp claims that his cows spend up to 18 hours every day on waterbeds—which are especially designed for the cows, made of rubber, and re-filled with fifty liters of fresh water every day.

Though the man claims that they have the best interest of the cows at heart in order to produce the highest quality of milk, you have to wonder at the practice. Can making cows lounge around on waterbeds really be that great for them? It doesn’t seem very natural, after all; and if you really wanted to put the cows’ best interest first and foremost, would allowing the cows to, say, remain childless—or having children by choice rather than being impregnated over and over again to make milk and veal—not be the most humane, “in their interest” practice? Wouldn’t allowing their milk to go to their children rather than going to humans, too, be in their best interest? Saying that you’re putting your cows’ needs before the needs of the people by putting them on waterbeds is stupid at best, darkly ironic at worst. (Wasting that much water in a daily waterbed change is also an added environmental cost of the dairy industry.) If you were really that caring regarding your cows, surely you’d just let them be instead of using them for income and food. (As I’ve stated on many occasions, humans are the only species who drink milk not only from another species, but also beyond infancy, which is just super weird when you think about it.)

The farmer goes on to state that in return for such “awesome” (quotes mine on that one) treatment, they get superior milk in return. His actual words: “We treat our cows as individuals and care for every aspect of their lives including socialising and comfort as well as obvious needs such as food and health care.” Of course, if as individuals he means as breeders, milk providers, and forced-to-give-up-their-young mothers, perhaps he just means women.

If I sound bitter on behalf of cows (or women, for that matter), just try putting yourself in a fellow mammal’s shoes—a mammal that obviously cares for and spends time raising its young, just as humans do. While this farmer thinks he’s being magnanimous and humane, he’s actually just explaining away his industry and perhaps assuaging his own guilt when it comes to his milk-thieving. Men, after all, can make milk; perhaps he should just lounge around on a waterbed himself and then sell his own.