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In Eden, cows suffer as barns collapse under snow’s weight

More than 30 dairy cows were likely killed Thursday at the Phillips Family Farms in Eden, as workers scrambled to help save as many as they could in the midst of the snowstorm that collapsed two barns in which they were housed.

Half of the West Church Street dairy facility caved in Thursday morning, with the collapse of the two large wood barns that contained 200 to 220 stalls, said Russell Barten, manager of the farm, formerly owned by the Feasley family for years.

“Some cows are unaccounted for, due to the collapse,” said Barten. “They’re all buried in the snow. It’s so deep.”

Farm workers managed to get the remaining 170 or more cows into three other steel barns on the property, but conditions are crowded, because they’re sharing space with 250 heifers.

Farm employees spent Friday moving 50 heifers to other facilities operated by Phillips Family Farms, with heifers loaded onto cattle trucks this weekend and also moved to other locations. In some cases, heifers remain at the other farms for the next five to six months, Barten said.

The move was necessary to ease the crowding.

“We’re taking it day by day here, to just get by,” Barten said. “We’re trying to keep them as comfortable as possible.”

The first barn collapse occurred at about 10 a.m. Thursday, while the second barn collapse came about 11 a.m. Each barn contained 100 stalls.

Nearby on Belknap Road, a barn collapsed Thursday on 120 dairy cows at Preischel Farms, and three of the cows had to be shot, with the 117 surviving cows moved to a newly built barn at the farm. Also, a barn used to store hay collapsed but the hay was salvaged, and a grain bin also was damaged.