Where in the hell is a dairyman to turn when he suddenly finds himself the not-so-proud owner of an unending pile of cow corpses? After all, there probably aren’t too many cow-sized carpets readily available to perform a Mafia-like roll and toss, and there sure aren’t enough Harvey Keitels out there to get the job speedily done.
No, we aren’t recounting some sort of bovine-related parable from the creameries of yore. We’re talking about a dilemma facing the Texas and New Mexico dairy industries thanks to the freakishly white Christmas they just suffered through.
More than 30,000 dairy cows now lay dead thanks to Winter Storm Goliath, which ravaged most of the Midwest last week with winds gusting up to 80 miles per hour and enough snow to bury entire herds of cows alive. The dairy cows are said to have horrifically suffocated to death while enveloped by snow drifts measuring as tall as 14 feet.
One affected famer—Cliff Pirtle of New Mexico—told KOAT7 Albuquerque, “When the meteorologists first started talking about a blizzard on the eastern plains of New Mexico, I was like, ‘No, this is a desert. That’s not going to happen.’” Pirtle’s Roswell, New Mexico-based farm, called P7 Dairy, is said to have had some 3,200 cows until the incident.
It only makes sense that the loss of 30,000 dairy cows is going to have some serious implications on not only the region’s dairy industry, but also on its supply of milk. The executive director of the Texas Association of Dairymen, Darren Turley, said in a statement, “With Goliath, she dealt a particularly harsh and costly blow to the area’s dairy producers, from the death of thousands of livestock they spend so much time caring for to a loss of milk production over the weekend and in the future.”
According to the Texas Association of Dairymen’s website, the average Texan dairy farm produces around 16.1 million pounds of milk per year.
All that said, dry-ass cereal is the least of their worries. Now that things have calmed down, it falls upon the poor farmers to figure out how in the hell they are going to safely dispose of a massive number of dead cows. Turley says, “The immediate challenge is how to handle these sudden, massive losses of animals.” He points out, “The ordinary methods for disposal cannot handle the volume of deaths we are seeing from this storm.”
Maybe this is TMI, but we thought you should know that New Mexico has some pretty strict state laws regarding the disposal of dead cows. Farmers must either pay for a rendering service to deal with the corpses or they must bury and compost the cows themselves on their own land. Rendering companies pick up the dead cows and then convert the corpses into useable byproducts. If the farmers choose to compost, state guidelines require that they dig the graves to a prescribed depth and proximity to the water table.
So now you know what to do in case you find yourself in New Mexico with a shitload of dead cows on your hands. It’s not an easy problem to deal with. Just ask the dairy farmers hit by Winter Storm Goliath.