Dairy farmers say they are still feeling the effects of last weekend’s blizzard.
“I’ve never seen anything like this the whole time I’ve been farming myself and my family, this was a once-in-a-lifetime storm,” said JJ Pagel, dairy manager at Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy Farm.
Dozens of local farms reported having barn collapses over the weekend, and feed operations are affected because fields are still snow covered.
Pagel’s Ponderosa is one of the dairy farms dealing with a barn collapse at one of their heifer barns.
“We were fortunate enough we got all the animals out, but then we had the issue of what do we do with having an extra 1,000 animals? So through making a lot of phone calls and a lot of friendships, we were able to move about 1,200 animals to four different locations,” Pagel said.
“There were some barns that were going down and people were looking for room for cows, anybody that could handle them. It makes me concerned about our building, we got out there, evaluated and it was okay, we didn’t have much of a snow load on there, but then we were monitoring very closely the last three to four days,” said Dan Brick, owner of Brickstead Dairy Farms in Greenleaf.
Dairy farmers say they were constantly worried about milk deliveries, and it took a lot of teamwork to get the day’s job done. Both Pagel and Brick say they’re were fortunate to not have to dump out any milk.
“It was hard for people to be able to get to work so some of our employees jumped in, and we drove some of our own trucks, we held some of our own milk with our guys, along with everybody cleaning the yards and you know cleaning roads for people, just trying to get them from A to B,” Pagel added.
With snow still covering the dairy farms’ corn and alfalfa fields, feed for dairy cows will take longer to produce.
“We know that we’re going to be two weeks behind on a normal year and that’s if things turn around here today, and it could definitely be three weeks or even further if we do not get the weather to cooperate,” said Brick.
“It’ll change our feed operation because we’re going to have to wait a little bit longer to chop the alfalfa, we don’t know how many crops we’re going to get this year. We had to change some of our seed purchases, because now not getting the opportunity to get corn in the ground as early as we’d like we’re going to have to buy shorter-day corn and not knowing what the rest of spring has for us yet,” said Pagel.
Brick says even though planting and harvesting will be delayed by two weeks, there is a silver lining in all of this. Brick says right now he’s found no frost in the ground and he’s hoping the snow melt will infiltrate the soil instead of running off into the lakes and streams.
“It’ll help build the root moisture coming into July and August when it’s dry out, it can help store some of that moisture that we do have,” said Brick.