By: Shaylin Ruane
Frederick Community College

While it is true that a monetary value cannot be assigned to a human life, the impact of the loss of livestock affects not only the livelihood of their owners but the marketplace as well.  In December of 2015, Winter Storm Goliath unleashed a chilling terror over West Texas with wind gusts up to eighty miles per hour and snowdrifts reaching ten feet.  An estimation of over 30,000 dairy cows perished in the freezing temperatures (Carr, 2016).  The lack of preparation for circumstances such as this one resulted in the death of an enormous human resource—milk.  Darren Turley of the Texas Association for Dairymen stated that he and his team followed regular protocol for winter storms and thought they were “ready.”  However, winter storm Goliath proved otherwise.  As the storm ferociously carried on with its harsh winds and snow accumulation, Turley affirmed that there was nothing he could do to ensure his cows were safe.  Livestock specialist Karl Hoppe of the North Dakota State University Carrington Research Extension Center used Farm Business Management records to estimate the net worth of one cow at $2,582.03.  Based on Hoppe’s 2012 estimate, the cost of losing more than 30,000 cows exceeded $77,460,000.  The importance of disaster preparedness for livestock owners intensifies with the prevalence of natural disasters, and even the best-laid plans are tested by mammoth natural disasters like Goliath.  What is important to recognize is disasters can happen anywhere and come in many forms.  Livestock owners need to be prepared.

The Humane Society (n.d.) has provided local resources and information to assist you in creating your disaster response plans.  For more information about disaster preparedness for livestock owners, click the following link:
Remember to plan for the unthinkable, pre-plan and take precautions to protect livestock and establish a farm disaster kit.  An effective plan for disaster preparedness – priceless.



Carr, Ada. “Dairy Cow Death Toll to Surpass 30,000 in Texas, New Mexico Due to Winter Storm Goliath.” The Weather Channel, 1 Jan. 2016,

Mussman, M.  (2016).  Rare winter storm ends in disaster.  Dairy Star.  Retrieved from

The Human Society of the United States.  (n.d.).  Disaster preparedness for farm animals.  Retrieved from

Hildebrandt, D.  (2012).  What’s a cow worth? Determining the value of a cow important to success.  Farm & Ranch Guide.

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