Cattle Losses From Hurricane Ike

By: Joe Brown Email
By: Joe Brown Email

Highway 73 runs almost parallel to I-10, between Winnie and Port Arthur, and everything south of that road was flooded by the storm surge. Cattle herds in Chambers and Jefferson Counties have been devastated.

“Logistically getting the number of livestock out, it would have taken several weeks. We have to realize where that area is, and where you would have to move those animals. You would have to move them on the other side of Houston.”

Jason Cleere is with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and says ranchers have been through hurricanes before.

“but not the magnitude of this, and so typically what they do is, they open fences, open gates, cut fences, and let cattle out on the roads or any high area.”

But with storm surges from eight to twenty feet, it didn’t matter where some of the cattle were.

“The thing I saw being down there was there were very few calves, and lots of cows with big udders, which would indicate that they had lost their calves.”

“The cattle that did perish, those cattle were immediately from a drowning standpoint. Now we took a proactive approach as early as Thursday prior to the storm to begin putting groups together, and begin putting resources together.”

Lessons were learned from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“Whenever that salt water came in, grass was ruined, and all of the fresh water sources were ruined as well, and so getting water as fast to them as possible and getting some forage to them as fast as possible was the critical thing because, if not, they start consuming the salt water, and they’ll eventually die.”

Water deliveries began Monday, but ultimately…

“Those cattle will have to be moved into some new pastures because of all of that grass again was covered with salt and probably will not be back in place until next spring.”

Hay supplies, fencing supplies, trucking resources, and monetary donations are needed. If you want to help, call your county Texas Agri-Life Extension agent.

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