AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Winter storms that ripped through the central and Southern United States at the end of 2015 dealt a blow to Texas' dairy industry.
The Texas Association of Dairymen said in a statement Saturday that winter storm conditions killed about 5 percent of mature dairy cows in the state. The group does not know how many heifers and calves have been lost. Executive director Darren Turley said as farmers continue to assess the damage, the number of losses is expected to rise.
"The immediate challenge is how to handle these sudden, massive losses of animals," Turley said in the statement. "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."
Turley also said blizzard conditions prevented employees from accessing the farms to milk cows, which typically needs to happen twice a day.
"When a dairy cow goes that long without being milked, her milk supply starts to dry up," Turley said. "That means the dairy cows in this region will give less milk for months to come. Less milk going to market will be felt by consumers, as well as by dairy farmers."
Hundreds of loads of milk waiting to be processed went to waste during the blizzard.
CNN reported storm system Goliath barreled through Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia earlier this week, causing about 49 deaths. The upper Midwest and Northeast were also hit with several inches of snow and freezing rain.