Jan 5, 2016

Blizzard Buried Some Dairy Cows in the Snow; 35,000 Die

Lubbock, TX
USA
by
Lucinda Holt and Fernanda Santos
,
New York Times
Dairy calves peered around snow piles at Dutch Road Dairy in Muleshoe, Tex., on Monday. The dairy lost 300 of its 2,200 cows during a blizzard that began on Dec. 26. Photo: Allison Terry, The New York Times
Dairy calves peered around snow piles at Dutch Road Dairy in Muleshoe, Tex., on Monday. The dairy lost 300 of its 2,200 cows during a blizzard that began on Dec. 26. Photo: Allison Terry, The New York Times

After a mild and dry Christmas Day, a fierce blizzard whipped across the rolling plains of West Texas and eastern New Mexico. The wind blew mercilessly for 48 hours, leaving snow drifts as high as 14 feet.

Though winter storms are not strangers to this region, the unrelenting wind — sometimes gusting to 80 miles per hour — and blinding snow of this blizzard surpassed even the most dire of forecasts. Dairy farmers in the region, who produce 10 percent 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. In West Texas, about 10 percent of the adult herd was lost. 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.

“It was just beyond anything we ever saw,” said Nancy Beckerink, who moved her dairy farm, Dutch Road Dairy, to Muleshoe, Tex., from western New York six years ago to escape the harsh winters of the Northeast. Her dairy lost 300 of its 2,200 cows, and Ms. Beckerink said she might lose 50 to 75 more to frostbite