Blizzard kills 35,000 West Texas dairy cows

January 6, 2016

According to The New York Times, a blizzard hit the plains of West Texas and eastern New Mexico on December 26, lasting for 48 hours and leaving snow drifts as high as 14 feet. Although farmers had warning and prepared for the storm, the strong winds—sometimes gusting to 80 miles per hour—and blinding snow were devastating. Dairy farmers in the region, who produce 10% of the milk in the United States, are now tallying their losses.

So far, more than 35,000 dairy cows have been found dead; many other animals developed frostbite and could still die. Farmers are trying to decide how to dispose of the carcasses that dot the landscape, though others might not be found until the snow melts.

The farmers’ financial loss will come not only from the cows that died, but also from the loss in productivity among those that survived, making the loss difficult to quantify. Dairy cows require a routine and are normally milked two times a day to keep them producing milk. Because many went without milking for two days during the storm, their supply is expected to dwindle.

While consumers should not expect noticeable increases in the prices of milk, farmers will have a hard time recouping their income.

NY Times article