Texas Agriculture January 15, 2016 : Page 10

Snowstorm claims thousands of Texas, New Mexico cattle and heifers also died. and road closures also kept dairy almost two days without being Beef cattle and other livestock employees, who normally milk the milked,” Turley said. When a dairy cow goes that long animals twice a day, and tanker A powerful winter storm that also were affected. “There’s some range cattle that trucks, that transport the milk to a without being milked, her milk sup-brought cooler temperatures, winds toppling 35 miles per hour and snow haven’t been found yet,” Turley said. processor, from reaching the dairy ply will start to dry up. “That means the dairy cows in drifts nearing 10 feet tall is taking a “They’re still working to see where farms. heavy toll on the Texas dairy indus-they’re at and how bad the snow drifts were. try and affected beef producers. Ranchers and dairymen in an It has a huge impact area west of Lubbock to Muleshoe to them (ranchers), as and north to Friona lost more than well.” The impacted farm-15,000 cows as winter storm Goli-ers, ranchers and ath blew through the state. The death toll continues to rise dairymen in Texas and as snow drifts melt and people are New Mexico are now able to access the true nature of dealing with both the emotional and financial their losses. “We’re continuing to work impacts of the storm. “Like all agriculture, through some of the affected areas,” Darren Turley, executive director of dairy producers always the Texas Association of Dairymen, operate at the mercy of said in an interview with the Texas Mother Nature,” Tur-Farm Bureau (TFB) Radio Network. ley said. “With Goliath, “It’s going to have a huge impact on she dealt a particu-larly harsh and costly the industry.” The region hit the hardest is blow to the area’s dairy home to about 36 percent of the producers, from the state’s dairy cows and about half of deaths of thousands of Texas farmers and ranchers from areas of the South Plains and Panhandle are dealing Texas’ top milk-producing counties. livestock they spend so with the impacts of excessive snowfall. Photo by Billy Bob Brown First estimates reveal about much time caring for to “Not only were hundreds of loads this region will give less milk for 15,000, or five percent, of mature the loss of milk production over the of milk ready for processing wast-months to come,” Turley said. “Less dairy cows were killed in the storm. weekend and in the future.” During the storm, the weather ed, but, on some farms, cows went milk going to market will be felt by An unknown number of dairy calves consumers, as well as dairy farmers.” Turley told the TFB Ra-dio Network consumers will likely not see a change in their dairy prices. “The farms and sales are the ones who are going to feel the real impact of this storm,” Turley said. “The ones who were impacted and saw the loss are the ones who are under a huge financial burden coming through this type of loss— hundreds of dairy cows at some locations. It’s hard for them to resume after this.” Cow-calf producers and dairymen may also contin-ue to see losses due to the storm in other ways. Dr. Winter storm Goliath dealt a devastating punch to the Texas Panhandle. Photos by Billy Bob Brown By Jessica Domel News Editor 10 J ANUARY 15, 2016

Snowstorm Claims Thousands of Texas, New Mexico Cattle

Jessica Domel

A powerful winter storm that brought cooler temperatures, winds toppling 35 miles per hour and snow drifts nearing 10 feet tall is taking a heavy toll on the Texas dairy industry and affected beef producers.

Ranchers and dairymen in an area west of Lubbock to Muleshoe and north to Friona lost more than 15,000 cows as winter storm Goliath blew through the state.

The death toll continues to rise as snow drifts melt and people are able to access the true nature of their losses.

“We’re continuing to work through some of the affected areas,” Darren Turley, executive director of the Texas Association of Dairymen, said in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) Radio Network. “It’s going to have a huge impact on the industry.”

The region hit the hardest is home to about 36 percent of the state’s dairy cows and about half of Texas’ top milk-producing counties.

First estimates reveal about 15,000, or five percent, of mature dairy cows were killed in the storm. An unknown number of dairy calves and heifers also died.

Beef cattle and other livestock also were affected.

“There’s some range cattle that haven’t been found yet,” Turley said. “They’re still working to see where they’re at and how bad the snow drifts were. It has a huge impact to them (ranchers), as well.”

The impacted farmers, ranchers and dairymen in Texas and New Mexico are now dealing with both the emotional and financial impacts of the storm.

“Like all agriculture, dairy producers always operate at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Turley said. “With Goliath, she dealt a particularly harsh and costly blow to the area’s dairy producers, from the deaths of thousands of livestock they spend so much time caring for to the loss of milk production over the weekend and in the future.”

During the storm, the weather and road closures also kept dairy employees, who normally milk the animals twice a day, and tanker trucks, that transport the milk to a processor, from reaching the dairy farms.

“Not only were hundreds of loads of milk ready for processing wasted, but, on some farms, cows went almost two days without being milked,” Turley said.

When a dairy cow goes that long without being milked, her milk supply will start to dry up.

“That means the dairy cows in this region will give less milk for months to come,” Turley said. “Less milk going to market will be felt by consumers, as well as dairy farmers.”

Turley told the TFB Radio Network consumers will likely not see a change in their dairy prices.

“The farms and sales are the ones who are going to feel the real impact of this storm,” Turley said. “The ones who were impacted and saw the loss are the ones who are under a huge financial burden coming through this type of loss—hundreds of dairy cows at some locations. It’s hard for them to resume after this.”

Cow-calf producers and dairymen may also continue to see losses due to the storm in other ways. Dr. Ted McCollum, a Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension Specialist, encourages ranchers to continue to watch their animals for lingering effects of the storm.

“There is some potential for latent effects of the sustained low wind chill temperatures during the recent blizzard conditions,” McCollum said.

The bitter cold may have frozen the ears, tails, teats and sensitive udders of cattle.

While partial loss of an ear or tail is not a threat to the long-term health of a cow, a frozen teat or udder could mean reduced or no milk consumption for calves.

Dr. McCollum urges cow-calf producers to check teats on nursing cows. If they were impaired by frostbite, there’s a chance of mastitis or a partial loss of udder function.

“Also, cows that will be calving later this year could have been affected, but the effects may not be apparent until calving time and lactation,” McCollum said. “Again, observe the calves and the udders after calving.”

Bulls may have also been affected by the cold and wind. Bulls planned for fall calving should also be checked for breeding soundness.

“The extreme cold during the blizzard and the lack of significant warm-up since was a tax on body energy reserves,” McCollum said. “It may be necessary to increase supplemental feed for the remainder of the pregnancy period to offset the loss in body condition. And winter is not over yet.”

Dairymen and ranchers also are now dealing with the disposal of the cattle after their carcasses have been found.

Turley reports the ordinary disposal methods cannot handle the volume of deaths the state is seeing from the storm.

The Texas Association of Dairymen is working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and other agencies on how to quickly and safely handle the deceased livestock.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) has issued a public service announcement that its FSA offices are available to help livestock owners who have suffered a loss due to the adverse weather.

Livestock owners are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for additional details about the livestock indemnity program.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Snowstorm+Claims+Thousands+of+Texas%2C+New+Mexico+Cattle/2369979/287396/article.html.

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