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Winter storms are blamed for 1,600 cow deaths in Washington state



A series of winter storms that have pounded the state of Washington this week are blamed for killing about 1,600 dairy cows in the Yakima Valley.

The Yakima Valley Dairy Farmers Association blames cold temperatures and winds gusting to 80 miles per hour for the cow deaths.

According to NBC News the area usually only gets six to eight inches of rain per year, so buildings housing the cows often lack walls. This year winter storms dropped 18 to 24 inches of snow.

KIMA-TV says dairy farmers are preparing for more winter storms by adding extra bedding to insulate areas for cows to lie down, adding extra feed, and thawing water troughs with hot water.

Dairy farmer Alyssa Haak of Prosser, Washington, says they are stacking straw bales to create windbreaks for cows.

The storms will have an economic impact, not only are cows about $2,000 apiece, according to NBC News, but during the storms, some farmers had to stop milking.

“What people are hearing about right now is the devastation caused by the storm, but what they don’t realize is that these farms have to keep running,” Kimmi Devaney, director of community relations for the Dairy Farmers of Washington, told NBC News.

Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency because of the storms, which farmers are hoping will lead to further assistance.

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