Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Northwest Ranchers And Dairies Struggle Against Freezing Temps, Wind Chill

Anna King
Northwest News Network
Tony Freeman has 400 milking Holsteins near Othello, Washington. He's trying to keep them warm, fed and watered in the bitter Eastern Washington cold this week.

Low temperatures, snow drifts, and northeasterly winds east of the Cascades are making things difficult for Northwest ranchers and dairy owners. They are struggling to keep their animals hydrated, fed and warm.

Jack Field of Yakima, Washington, said his beef cattle and calves are struggling through two-foot snow drifts, and his tractors are seizing up in the cold. Keeping the cattle fed is important since they can’t reach the standing hay, or the grass under the snow.

Near Othello, Washington, Tony Freeman has 400 milking Holsteins. He said in this cold, every job takes twice as long. Freeman said it’s tough to keep the ice out of water troughs, tractors running, clean bedding and enough feed for the milkers.

Cold is also hard on the humans who tend them. Freeman spends a lot of his time telling his workers to come in the milk parlor every 15 minutes to thaw.

And he said could use an extra hand.

“If you have time, you can put your coveralls on and come up and help. Or you can send one of your listeners up -- or several of them -- we’d love to have them come and help us, ” Freeman said with a laugh.

But while keeping your tail tucked to the bitter wind is tough, Freeman said keeping milk cows cool in 100-degree weather is tougher. And he said that’ll come soon enough.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.