Challenges Ahead: California dairy evacuates 4,000 cows due to flash flooding

California producers went from historic drought to extreme flooding in a matter of weeks.

According to the latest drought monitor, the state now has hardly any dry conditions at all, with just a few producers seeing abnormal to moderate drought at the top and bottom of the map.

One dairy has been hit particularly hard in the state and had to evacuate more than 4,000 cows. On the National Milk Producers Federation Dairy Defined podcast, Alan Bjerga had the opportunity to talk with the owner of Vanderham West Dairy for an update on what these conditions mean for the state’s dairy industry, which is the top producing milk state in the nation:

“Luckily, most of the guys who had the flash floods across the dairy, most of those guys are back on, and they’ve moved back to their dairies and they’re producing on their own ranches and stuff, whatever,” explains Cory Vanderham. “I’m the only one that’s fully evacuated because my dairy will be completely underwater. Going forward, the feed’s going to be an issue. There’s a lot of farm ground that’s underwater that produces a wheat crop, wheat silage, and corn silage—so that’s going to be tough to source out later. There are a lot of almond trees that are underwater, and we feed the almond hulls, which is a byproduct of that. Nobody knows what’s going to happen with those trees. I mean, granted, there are hundreds of thousands of acres of trees, but it’s all going to eventually play out. So I can’t give a full answer on that, on what I think is going to happen, but time’s going to tell. This is something that we’ve never had to deal with before.”

What is more, the snowpack is only about 20 percent melted, which comes out to more than 40 inches of rainwater, and is still expected to come down.


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