The Floating Cows of Rotterdam

closeup of a brown cow with a tag in its ear that reads Curry #5

If you’ve ever dreamed of spending your days on a boat, cruising a river, you might envy 32 cows in the Netherlands.

They’re producing milk and chewing their cud aboard the world’s first floating dairy farm. It’s an educational tool as well as a sustainable working farm, outfitted with solar panels, robotic milking, and rainwater captured on the roof and purified for drinking. A 26-year old farmer runs it in the port of Rotterdam. Keeping the cattle afloat protects them from rising waters that would normally halt production. There’s nearby greenspace that cows can trot through if they choose.

The floating farm has three levels. The cows will spend most of their time in the centre, on the rubberized floor. However, they can go up top for a better view. The lower level is where milk processing takes place.

Milk sells in vending machines. Manure fertilizes area gardens. The cows eat grains leftover from beer-making and grass clippings from nearby golf courses. Anyone who wants to learn the biz can see how it’s done by boarding the farm and floating around a while.

This first-of-its-kind farm cost around $3-million. Plans include a floating chicken farm and a greenhouse. This idea is great for places where farmland is at a premium. Floating cattle would have looked right at home in flooding along the Sydenham River this year. The cows probably think they’re on a working vacation, like a bovine Love Boat, and the farmer is their Captain Stubing. They might want a bull or two onboard to make it a real love boat. Or maybe not. No judgment here!

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