Drought Takes a Toll on Dairy Farmers

Newschannel 6 is getting a glimpse into a growing problem for Texoma dairy farmers.

They are struggling to keep their businesses alive as the need for water and feed grows stronger every day.

Dairy farmer Roy Koetter took Newschannel 6 crews on a tour of his farm. He says the heat is putting so much stress on his cows.

They cannot even get a proper rest at night because with lows ranging in the mid 80's, the cows never get a chance to cool off.

Koetter says when a cow is stressed they produce less milk and not as good quality.

Roy Koetter has been a dairy farmer for nearly 50 years and he has never seen conditions this bad.

Roy Koetter says, "I don't know, it may mean the end of us if we don't get some grazing this fall. They have to go so far to haul hay into this area that who knows, we are in uncharted waters right here. This has never happened before."

Roy Koetter says it has been an uphill battle and now the drought is starting to really take its toll.

For the past few months Koetter has been driving as far as Colorado and Nebraska just to find hay for his cows. He says the quality he is finding does not compare to what he usually feeds his cows.

Koetter says, "It is really hard on these cows that are producing 60 to 70 pounds of milk cause they put everything they got into the milk and if you don't feed them the right kind of feed, it is going to stress them out."

And Koetter says his cows are definitely stressed. Not just because of the feed but also because of the heat. With a stressed cow Koetter says you can definitely see a difference in the milk being sold in stores.

Koetter comments, "They don't produce not as much milk and by the way we get paid off of components like butter fat and protein in the milk, it may hurt that to."

But Koetter does what he can to alleviate the stress.

Before cows are taken into the dairy parlor to be milked large fans and water misters and blown onto the cows in order to cool them down. But despite the misters Roy says he does try to conserve as much water as he can.

Koetter says each hosting cow drinks about 75 gallons of water daily. He gets half of his water source from wells and the other half comes from the city. But Koetter says his well water supply seems to be getting weaker by the day.

Windthorst Water Supply Corporation tells Newschannel 6 that 95 percent of Windthorst residents are relying on city water to get by.

Windthorst is currently under level two of their drought contingency plan.

Natalie Garcia,  Newschannel 6