A freak snow storm that hit Texas the day after Christmas killed up to 35,000 cattle or about 10 percent of all dairy cows in the region. The storm blasted the area for 48 continuous hours with wind speeds up to 80mph. The death toll was originally estimated at 15,000 but as snow levels receded more and more dead cow surfaced. The majority of the deaths were attributed to the ranchers being unable to feed the livestock due to deep snow drifts that reach 14 feet high in some areas rather than actually freezing to death or being buried alive. It is common practice in Texas to let cattle graze in open pasture and keep them in a barn when weather is approaching but unfortunately in this case the storm hit too rapidly for them to secure them inside.
“We did the best we could for our animals,” Ms. Beckerink said. But as the storm worsened, saving them meant risking the lives of her workers — “a horrifying decision to make.” -NY Times
Then of course there is the problem of what to with the 35,000 dead cattle. Since they were dairy cows and not raised for meat the bodies will taking to a rendering plants to turned into animal feed and other products. The effects of the massive die off are not expected to effect milk prices.