Friona, TX - Dairy farmers across the Panhandle and eastern New Mexico lost an estimated 35,000 dairy cows during Winter Storm Goliath, according to the Texas Association of Dairymen.
That loss, as well as the storm's effect on living livestock, is expected to reduce Texas's milk supply for up to a year.
Del Rio Dairy near Friona lost 30 cows during the blizzard and went 18 hours without being able to milk their herd. "Trying to get back on track has been very difficult for us and many of the other farms the we know personally in the area," said Nathan Moroney, the manager for Del Rio Dairy. "It's been a big challenge. Here we are nearly a week removed from that storm, and still just dealing with the cleanup."
Along with the loss of livestock, dairies are also dealing with the loss of milk their living cows produce. Some dairies went nearly two days without being able to milk, which means dairy cows in the region will give less milk for months to come. "These kind of conditions can leave them in what we call a dried out state to where they are no longer able to produce that milk or routinely being able to produce that milk," said Moroney. "We're up to 10 pounds off per cow and that's just a conservative estimate at this point in time."
This means less milk from our region will be going to market, which could be a blow to the industry because the Panhandle is home to half of the state's top ten milk producing counties.
"We're going to have a long recovery from this," said Moroney. "We're going to see a number of other ailments occur as a result of the amount of moisture and being off our routine. It's going to have major financial impacts that are going to linger and resonate for quite some time."
Dairies in Friona, Muleshoe and Clovis suffered the most loss.