Another California exodus: Dairy cows leave for greener pastures in Texas, Arizona as farms squeezed by drought
There are more dairy cows in Texas and Arizona than in California.
And with dairy farms in the two states drying up, it looks more and more like the West Coast will be overtaken by the Lone Star State.
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A cow in the pasture of Texas’ New Braunfels Ranch, outside McAllen, Texas, on Thursday, September 10.
The New Braunfels Ranch has been selling its cattle to dairy farmers in other states, including New York, which pays about $2 for a cow.
While in Texas, the cow is butchered first and fed the finest meat. In New York, it’s fed high-value beef, which costs more at about $12 a pound.
California is home to the largest number of dairy cows—about 10 million in the state—but Texas and Arizona are both bigger producers of them.
California produces a total of about 707,000 cows each year, with about half that number producing in the Central Valley, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. There are a few million calves born and about 400,000 cows left in the state.
By contrast, Texas and Arizona each produce about 1.5 million cows, with about one-third of that number producing in the desert Southwest.
New Braunfels Ranch sells its cows to dairy farmers in Texas and elsewhere, including other states where the price is higher, including New York (USDA)
In the 1950s, cattlemen in the Central Valley of California began shifting cows to Arizona and Texas. When they did, farm prices plummeted.
About 7,000 dairy cows were moved west between 1952 and 1975, with another 6,000 sent to Texas. Farmers in South Texas, like New Braun