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Agricultural News

Cattle Losses Still Being Counted from Christmas Blizzard in Southern High Plains

Mon, 04 Jan 2016 09:53:15 CST

Cattle Losses Still Being Counted from Christmas Blizzard in Southern High Plains According to Ed Czerwein with the USDA Market News office in Amarillo, "the Christmas blizzard appears to have had a lot more impact on the Dairy industry south and west of Amarillo. There is a bunch of very large dairy operations that are near Clovis, New Mexico and Muleshoe, Texas where the storm was the worst. They are starting to estimate thousands of dairy cows that perished during the storm along with many MANY more small calves. Also milk production will decline in some operations because of cows not being milked during the storm and its impact on upcoming production.

Czerwein's comments echo those of Darrin Turley, Executive Director of the Texas Association of Dairymen.

Turley estimates the region – which includes half of the state’s top 10 milk producing counties – is home to about 36 percent of the state’s dairy cows, or an estimated 142,800 cows. He estimates that the blizzard killed about 5 percent of mature dairy cows and an as-yet unknown number of calves and heifers. As producers are able to fully examine their herds, Turley estimates losses will continue to climb.

“The immediate challenge is how to handle these sudden, massive losses of animals,” Turley said. “The ordinary methods for disposal cannot handle the volume of deaths we are seeing from this storm. The Texas Association of Dairymen is working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and other agencies to determine how the animals can be disposed of both quickly and safely.” Click here for the full statement from the Texas Association of Dairymen.

Czerwein also reports via email on Monday morning that another segment of the Panhandle cattle industry that showed very large losses was the wheat pasture cattle from Tulia down to Lubbock. The snow was so deep that the cattle were able to walk over fences and wandered many miles away. They don't know how many actually died yet but many are missing and some have been found up to 30 miles away. It will probably take a long time to find all of the cattle.

Czerwein adds "Feedlots in that same general area that had recently purchased light weight Mexican cattle and/or light Holstein calves from California had incredible losses."

He concludes "it will take a long time to round up all of the wandering cattle and figure out the total losses. Like I said earlier, every feedlot has had big weight losses but areas South and West had the biggest death losses."



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