Poultry operations lost heat, which led to the death of chicks and left hatcheries with eggs that won’t hatch. Many calves, lambs and kids had just been born. The number that froze to death has yet to be counted.
“It was around the clock, all hands on deck, trying to keep the animals alive,” Mr. Miller said.
He pointed to other animal deaths in the state’s $1.3 billion exotic species business. More than 125 species of what are commonly called “Texotics” — including wildebeests and blackbuck antelopes — live on thousands of ranches in the Hill Country and across South Texas, where they are bred, displayed for sightseers and hunted for sport.
“We have a lot exotic game from India and Africa that don’t tolerate the cold,” Mr. Miller said. “Thousands and thousands are dead.”
Vegetable growers are still trying to assess which crops will need to be completely replanted and which can be saved. The Texas A&M report estimated the loss to those farmers at $150 million.
The fight against the deep freeze, which hurt both large growers and those with smaller urban farms, was waged differently from place to place, depending on the amount of cold and snow a region received, the duration of the cold and how well people who knew the freeze was coming could prepare.
The state’s two worst-hit growing regions — the Rio Grande Valley, at the southernmost point of Texas, and an area north of Laredo known as the winter garden region — were preparing to harvest winter crops like onions, cabbage and spinach, and were starting to plant spring crops like watermelon.
The state’s 1,500 acres of chipping potatoes in the Rio Grande Valley are gone. Bok choy and other green crops were destroyed or severely damaged, along with peaches, strawberries, wine grapes and berries.