A winter storm that slammed West Texas and eastern New Mexico during the last week of December turned out to be far worse than anyone predicted—especially for the region's dairy farmers, who say initial tallies indicate more than 35,000 cows died during the blizzard, the New York Times reports. "It was just beyond anything we ever saw," one farmer says of the dead cows, which were either buried alive in the drifts, frozen to death, or, in the case of calves, starved when farmers couldn't get to where they were holed up. The region accounts for 10% of America's milk.
One farmer estimated that each cow could cost up to $2,200 to replace, the Times notes. And it's not just the dead cows that will hit farmers' wallets—milk stored in tankers went bad after delivery trucks couldn’t get to them during the storm, and the production of surviving cows also suffered because they weren't milked as often as they needed to be as the snow fell (dairy cows need to stick to a regimen for milk production to stay on track). Another, more grisly issue: Farmers aren't sure how to get rid of such a large number of cow carcasses, CNBC reports.