In a devastating incident that may be the largest cattle killing ever, 18,000 cows were killed in an explosion and fire at South Fork Dairy farm near Dimmitt, Texas. The cows were trapped in the holding pens waiting to be milked when the fire spread quickly. While a dairy farm worker was rescued and is in stable condition, there were no other human casualties.
The cause of the explosion is believed to be a malfunction in a piece of equipment, though officials are still investigating. The dairy had opened in the area just over three years ago and employed between 50 to 60 people. The 18,000 cows represented about 90% of the farm’s total herd, valued at approximately $2,000 per cow. The company’s losses in livestock could stretch into the tens of millions of dollars, not including equipment and structure loss.
Castro County, where the fire occurred, is home to 15 dairies producing 148,000 pounds of milk a month. South Fork Dairy was a behemoth in the industry, nearly 10 times larger than the average dairy herd in Texas. The clean-up effort is now underway, with officials grappling with the massive task of disposing of 18,000 carcasses.