Nearly 2 percent of the Yakima Valley’s dairy cows died as a result of winter storms that swept through the county last week.
As of Friday, the death toll for cattle at the valley’s dairy farms was 1,830, said Chelsi Riordan, community relations manager for the Dairy Farmers of Washington, a Lynnwood-based industry group.
Initial reports said 1,600 head diedin Saturday’s powerful winds and sub-freezing temperatures. Many cattle clustered together, resulting in the animals trampling each other in an effort to escape the wind and cold.
During the storm, dairy farmers worked to provide the animals shelter from the wind, which reportedly gusted to 80 mph. They also cleared drifting snow from roads so food could be brought to the animals, and milk shipped out.
There are 100,000 dairy cows in the Valley, Riordan said. She called the death toll unprecedented.
Hector Castro, state Department of Agriculture spokesman, said the state is still developing plans for disposing of the dead animals. Among the options are composting the remains or burying them in landfills, officials with the departments of Agriculture and Ecology said.