Dairy Farmers Try To Recover After Freezing Temps Kill Hundreds Of Cows

Thursday, February 14th 2019, 9:41 am
By: News 9

Over a foot of snow with 60 mph winds.

“It was pure hell. We've never seen anything like it,” J & K Dairy Owner Jason Sheehan said.

He and his workers did all they could to protect their cows from the blizzard like conditions in Washington.

But even that was not enough.

“This is the first time in all my years milking cows that we've had to stop milking because we simply couldn't get the job done. We couldn't get the cows to go in or out of the barn,” Sheehan said.

Like J & K, dairies all over the state of Washington suffered because of the cold.

With almost 1,700 cows freezing to death all across Washington.

But even with the losses, Sheehan said he and his crew fought mother nature to keep the surviving livestock alive.

“The last thing that was on your mind was what you're dealing with you just knew that our main focus was doing everything we could to keep the cows comfortable,” he said.

Sheehan said the cows went into their primal instincts and huddled together to brace against the freezing temps.

Not budging from where they stood. Causing them to freeze in bunches.

But since this the first-time dairy farmers dealt with snow and wind chill at that level, in an area that is warm most of the year, there wasn't much that could be done.

“This is a desert. We are in a desert. We house our animals accordingly to the weather that we have,” herd manager Kyle Van Dyk said.

He said they're working to get the dairy back to normal.

Tending to those with injuries and getting the cows back up to one hundred percent.

But even as they press on, Van Dyk said they'll never forget what this past weekend did to their farm.

“The cows are doing what they do. We will never be back to normal. This has left a scar on all of us,” he said.

The Washington State Dairy Federation is working with state and federal officials to help farmers who have been hit the hardest.

They said over $2 million worth of damage has been done so far in the state.

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