Farmers search for missing cows on Facebook after blizzard

January 8, 2016 4:56 pm

 Drivers experience near whiteout conditions in Texas. Photo / Getty

Ranchers and dairy farmers in New Mexico and western Texas have
gone online in their search for thousands of missing cattle a week after
an historic two-day blizzard buried herds.
The storm, dubbed
Goliath, that began on December 26, may have killed as many as 27,000
cows in Texas, according to industry estimates. The following Monday,
Landon Weatherly, a rancher from Friona, Texas, who’s still trying to
find some of his family’s runaway cattle, created the Facebook group ‘Cattle Lost and Found,’
which now has over 4000 followers. It’s full of posts seeking livestock
identified by ear tags and brands, as well as videos, anecdotes and
notes of encouragement.

Sorry this is so late, but someone just shared this page with me.

These six calves were seen about 2 1/2 miles West of I-27, just North of FM 54 near Abernathy last week.
Posted by Morgan Provost on Tuesday, January 5, 2016

“When
you can’t see your cattle, it’s probably one of the worst feelings,”
Weatherly said on Tuesday in a telephone interview. “It was a mess, and
it still is.”
Locals are still struggling to get dairies, ranches
and feedlots running again, digging animals out from under snow, using
the bodies of those that didn’t survive as compost or taking them to
landfills. Farmers and industry observers say the region’s dairy
industry will take a hard hit.
Goliath brought 145km/h winds that
created 4.6m- high snow drifts. Weatherly said he could only pray for
his cattle during the storm. He spent days preparing, putting out
protective bales of hay, but whiteout conditions kept him from going
into the pastures and checking on the animals. Weatherly and his family
lost as many as 80 cows in the storm, some of which have been found
alive by neighbours.
The Texas Association of Dairymen reported
15,000 cows died. The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association,
which tracks cattle grazing in pastures, said as many as 8000 perished,
while the Texas Cattle Feeders Association said 4000 died on feedlots.
There are no firm estimates for dairy cow losses in New Mexico, though
the damage is serious, said Robert Hagevoort, a dairy specialist at New
Mexico State University.

White tag. Could get close enough to read. 3.5 miles west of I27 on 54
Posted by Jon David Heinrich on Sunday, January 3, 2016

The
dairy industry was hit harder than the cattle industry in New Mexico,
said Katie Goetz, a spokeswoman at the state’s Department of
Agriculture. Cows there are among the most efficient in the nation,
largely due to the state’s normally arid and temperate , said
Beverly Idsinga, executive director at the Dairy Producers of New
Mexico. Output is likely to decline as even surviving animals will
produce less because of stress caused by the storm.
Dairy cows in
the region are housed outdoors, and in the storm they instinctively
huddled together in corners of their corrals, where the snow piled over
them and froze them to death, Hagevoort at New Mexico State University
said. Calves are housed in 1.5m-tall calf bungalows and also were
buried, but they were found alive as the hutches acted like igloos,
keeping the animals warm and calm inside.
Some producers in Texas
were able to get out to open lots and break up the clusters of cattle,
but conditions were too dangerous and deadly in other areas, said Ellen
Jordan, a professor at Texas A&M University.
Much of the milk
produced in the region affected by the storm is used to produce cheese.
Despite the death of so many cattle, the US dairy market is still
weighed down by large inventories and booming Midwest production. Losses
at Texas and New Mexico dairies may bolster a price recovery in the
long term, said Eric Meyer, president of HighGround Dairy in Chicago.

This calf was on the farm to market 179 south of hale center feeders. No tag or visible brand.
Posted by Steven Shelli Rose on Sunday, January 3, 2016

“When
we see the turnaround, it could occur quicker because we won’t have the
cows in the pipeline to fill that need or demand,” Meyer said in a
telephone interview.
Farms are already picking back up. In Texas,
dairy operations affected by Goliath are 80 per cent to 95 per cent of
pre-storm production levels, said Texas A&M’s Jordan.
Alan
Anderson, the owner of Anderson Dairy in Portales, New Mexico, lost 82
of his 1450 dairy cows. Some of his surviving animals could still die
from frostbite and related complications, he said.
“I’ve never
seen anything like this,” said Anderson, who’s been in the area for
about 30 years. Neighbours and friends have since helped the dairy
farmer shovel out hutches, break ice- ridden paths and drag out dead
cows. Anderson is trying to move forward.
“You get up,” he said. “What you do is just forge on ahead.”

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