Dairy farmers in New Mexico and Texas did have prior warning that winter storm Goliath was coming. Despite all of their efforts, though, thousands of cows died in the extreme conditions.
In a special report for AgDay, Erica Irlbeck reported farmers around Clovis, N.M., spent a lot of time preparing for what would become a devastating blizzard. She says producers cleaned pens, added new straw and built windbreaks to protect the animals.
“The day of the storm our main concern was our cows and the care of our cows,” says Tara Vander Dussen who milks 10,000 cows with her family in New Mexico. “We couldn’t work hard enough and fast enough to keep up with conditions, and it was devastating to know what they were going through.”
She says they kept fresh feed in front of the cows as long as the weather would allow, constantly putting out feed as it would get covered in snow. Vander Dussen says employee safety was another priority on the dairy during the storm.
“If someone had gotten hurt, we wouldn’t have been able to get out,” she says.
Watch the AgDay story below:
Robert Hagevoort, the New Mexico State University dairy extension agent in the area, says farmers were out in 16-below weather, with their employees battling the elements to fight for the safety of their animals. Unfortunately, they couldn’t do enough, and many farmers in the area suffered cow losses.
“I think the cow care was the most devastating part, that we couldn’t take better care of our cows,” Vander Dussen says. On the Vander Dussen farm, they lost 18 cows and 50 calves in addition to 6 tankers of milk worth $80,000.
Total production losses are yet to be known, according to Hagevoort. Time will tell as the animals that survived are treated for pneumonia, frostbite and mastitis.