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Loss of livestock from High Plains wildfires continues to rise

Valarie Smith
High Plains Public Radio

High Plains wildfires killed countless numbers of pigs, cattle and other livestock last week.

As Reuters reports, a wildfire killed thousands of hogs at Smithfield Foods, Inc.’s hog farm in Laverne, Okla.

Wildfires also killed close to 2,000 hogs at two of Seaboard Foods’ farms south of Perryton, Texas.

About 1.2 million acres burned in the Texas Panhandle, northwestern Oklahoma and adjacent parts of southwestern Kansas within a 24-hour period last week.

Officials in Clark County, Kansas, estimated Friday that as many as 9,000 head of cattle had been killed.

The toll on farmers is not only financial, but emotional. Todd Domer of the Kansas Livestock Association said cattle ranchers and farmers are in the business of taking care of cattle and helping them flourish and aren’t accustomed to dealing with badly injured or dead cattle on the scale wrought by the fires.

The extent of the losses cannot be tallied until the fires are out, according to Heather Lansdowne of the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

According to the Kansas Adjutant General Department,  the Kansas Livestock Association is working with private donors to provide hay for cattle in counties that suffered extensive loss of grazing lands and baled hay.

Oklahoma’s News Channel 4 reports, the Buffalo Farmer’s Cooperative in Harper, Oklahoma and the Oklahoma State University Extension office have been overwhelmed with donations and offered donations of hay from all over the central plains.

Information about donating to those affected by the wildfires is available at the Kansas Livestock Association’s website, the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association’s website, and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association has established three supply points to collect donated hay, which can be found on its website