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Farmers: Winter Storms Killed 1,600 Dairy Cows in Washington State

A cow grazes in a snow-covered pasture in East Montpelier, Vt.,on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008. More snow and wind is in the forecast for Vermont Wednesday as the storm works its way through the northern part of the state. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File
KATHERINE RODRIGUEZ

Several winter storms that have pounded Washington state have killed about 1,600 dairy cows in the area, a group of dairy farmers said Tuesday.

Farmers with the Yakima Valley Dairy Farmers Association in Washington state say that a combination of 80-mile-per-hour winds and frigid temperatures were to blame for the increase in cow deaths, putting dairy farmers on guard.

Because the winter weather shows no sign of abating in the area, farmers are bulking up on insulation for bedding and extra feed to keep the cows comfortable when frigid weather strikes. They are also using hot water to thaw out frozen water troughs to ensure the cows stay hydrated.

“Without our employees, there’s no way we, or our cows could survive this storm,” Alyssa Haak, a dairy farmer from Prosser, told KIMA-TV. “To shield our cows from the wind we stacked straw bales to create a windbreak for our cows. I give a lot of credit to our milk truck drivers, too. Without their bravery, we wouldn’t be able to get our milk off the farm.”

The storms have hit Washington state hard enough that Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency to free up more resources for storm assistance.

Serious winter weather has claimed the lives of cattle before. In 2015, an estimated 30,000 cattle died when a major blizzard hit Texas. The storm, also known as “Goliath,” hit the area so hard it reduced the state’s milk supply.

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