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Old tires find new life in cow mattresses


January 6, 2010

A Cozy Cow mattress being used by a satisfied customer

A Cozy Cow mattress being used by a satisfied customer

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Cows have it hard. They’re bred to be empty-headed, they have to stand outside in the heat and cold, extraterrestrials occasionally do nasty things to them, and ... well, we won’t talk about what ends up happening to many of them. It’s nice, therefore, to see someone cutting the cows a break. Champagne Edition Inc, based out of Alberta, Canada, manufactures mattresses for the comfort and health of cattle. What’s more, they make the mattresses out of old tires, that might otherwise end up in a landfill.

Sold under the name of Cozy Cow, the $US95 mattresses consist of a tough synthetic cover stuffed with rubber crumb. The rubber comes from discarded tires, about 500,000 of which are shredded on-site each month. The covers are treated with anti-fungal and anti-bacterial solutions.

Company spokesperson Jim Hills told Gizmag “Our Cozy Cow mattress system is necessary for a healthy cow to be more productive and less prone to injuries commonly associated with stall activity.” According to the Cozy Cow website, the mattresses eliminate pressure sores, reduce injuries due to cows slipping or kneeling on hard cement, provide insulation, and reduce the need for bedding material (i.e: straw) by up to 75%. Contented cows not only produce more milk, they are also less prone to various ailments.

In fact, the mattress reportedly “Eliminates ‘dumb heifer’ disease.” Thank goodness. Actually, dumb heifer syndrome is a condition wherein cattle will repeatedly injure themselves within their stalls, sometimes to the point of death. If the Cozy Cow decreases the chances of that happening, then that is indeed a good thing.

Under the name of Eco-Flex, Champagne Edition also uses their shredded tires to produce a number of other products, including large interlocking rubber mats designed to provide a springy, flexible alternative to traditional concrete or asphalt sidewalks and roads. They are currently in use in various locations around the world.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Has anybody investigated what the leakage of the chemicals found in the tyres used - such as various PAHs, heavy metals, etc, has on the health of the cows ? And further, whether these chemicals, as is likely, turn up in the meat and dairy products produced by the animals ? Can\'t the animals be provided something other than hard cement flooring without inducing new problems for both them and human consumers ?...



Actually, I rather feel sorry for these cows. Our neighborhood gym replaced all their flooring with recycled tire mats and I had to get my membership refunded for a year: I tried it for a week and was holding my breath while working out as the smell from the rubber was so strong it gave me headaches. So, they may have comfy feet and feel nauseous. Hopefully when the mats are a year or three old they will no longer offgas.

\"Minor off-gassing is an issue with rubber flooring. The gasses have an odor but will not release hazardous chemicals. \"In some cases, products with recycled content are included with caveats regarding where they should be used. Rubber flooring made from recycled automobile tires is a good example--the caveat is that these products should not be used in most fully enclosed indoor spaces due to offgassing concerns.\" Rubber flooring is not known for it\'s indoor air quality ratings as much as cork (which is also excellent for it\'s hypo-allergenic properties). \"Building Materials: What Makes a Product Environment Friendly?\" (Earthwise.com) \"

Leanne Franson

There is a lot more to animal care in food production than you would think. If you want a good book on the subject; read: \\'Animals Make Us Human\\' by Dr. Temple Grandin.

While this cow-mat is an interesting use of recycled materials, in the realm of cow-comfort, the picture of the cow chained inside a stall speaks volumes. I\\'m reminded of an episode of \\'Beyond Tomorrow\\', where Graham Phillips visits a farm in Oxfordshire, England. In it, the cows line up themselves to be milked by an automated milking machine. Whenever their udders are full, it causes them some amount of discomfort. The automated process rotates them through one at a time, relieves them of their discomfort and lets the cows generally mill about and be cows. This mat, unfortunately represents no advancement in milking or general cow-care, but may provide a more productive cow at an average milking facility.

Video link: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3117786829227163391


It\'s not merely a question of the gases being released (although the statement that they «will not release harmful chemicals» should certainly be taken cum grano salis) ; note that the article mentions the possibility of the cows kneeling on the mats. Contact allergies are widely reported by people playing on so-called «astro-turf» produced from recycled tyres have been used ; I doubt that cows are less subject to these allergies than their fellow mammal H sapiens sapiens....


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