Sad Story--------Colorado Storms Kill Cattle; Deaths May Set Record

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hayman

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http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aLsrfapJ9QHE&refer=us

Jan. 3 (Bloomberg) -- About 1,000 head of cattle were found dead in a southeastern Colorado feedlot after two major storms buried the region in snow, and the death toll may grow to exceed a 1997 record, state Agriculture Commissioner Don Ament said.

About 4 feet (1.2 meters) of snow blanketed the area last week, and heavy winds created drifts as tall as 12 feet, leaving cattle searching for food and ranchers unable to find their livestock, Ament said. About 30,000 head of cattle were lost at a cost of $28 million in an October 1997 blizzard, and this storm ``could be far worse,'' he said.

``Yesterday was the first day we could dig them out and we can't account for a lot of animals,'' Ament said in an interview. ``I've had calls from farmers and ranchers saying they can't find their cattle,'' he said. The southeastern region of Colorado has about 300,000 head of cattle, he said.

The threat to livestock supplies helped send cattle prices to a four-month high. Cattle futures for February delivery rose 0.6 cent, or 0.7 percent, to 93.1 cents a pound at 2:09 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after earlier reaching 93.45 cents, the highest since Sept. 7.

Feeder Cattle

March futures for feeder cattle, the young animals that are fattened to slaughter weight, rose 0.625 cent, or 0.6 percent, to 99 cents a pound. Prices reached a record $1.1925 on Sept. 7 as feeder-cattle supplies from last year's calf crop dwindled.

The cattle deaths were reported at the Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding LLC feedlot in Lamar, about 225 miles southeast of Denver. The feedlot is a joint operation between Smithfield Foods Inc., the fifth-largest U.S. beef packer, and ContiGroup Cos. Troye Farmer, the feedlot's general manager, didn't return a phone message seeking comment.

Colorado Governor Bill Owens declared a statewide disaster emergency on December 28. Areas hardest hit were Prowers, Bent, Kiowa and Baca counties, according to the state Emergency Operations Center.

The state Agriculture Department has been working with Colorado and Wyoming National Guard units to conduct surveillance flights and distribute hay to the cattle they can find. A C-130 Hercules four-engine transport plane from the Wyoming National Guard, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and four UH- 60 Blackhawk helicopters are being used, Ament said.

The process has been slow because many of the military helicopters the state used in 1997 have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and to other parts of the state affected by the storms, Ament said.

Not Enough Helicopters

``We haven't done enough reconnaissance, we don't have enough helicopters,'' he said. ``We had the first snow on the ground on Thursday and yesterday was the first day we got the choppers in the air.''

He said many National Guard resources, including off-road capable Humvees, were being used on life-saving operations between Colorado Springs and Fort Collins where roads were impassable. ``We've got to take care of people first,'' he said.

U.S. Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado called on President George W. Bush and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns to assist state disaster relief efforts, including releasing emergency funds for livestock rescue and recovery as well as sending snow removal equipment to help reach stranded herds.

`Dire' Situation

``The situation is dire for farmers, ranchers and rural communities,'' Salazar said in a letter to the president.

There were 2.65 million head of cattle in Colorado as of Jan. 1, 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Texas had the largest cattle supply, 14.1 million head, which includes all beef and dairy animals.

Colorado is the fourth-biggest state for fed-cattle, with 1.12 million head on feed at the start of last year, according to USDA statistics supplied by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a Washington-based trade group.

Feedlots buy year-old animals that weigh 500 to 800 pounds and fatten them on corn for about four to six months, until they weigh about 1,200 pounds and are sold to slaughterhouses.

The storms have also knocked out electricity to some ranches and feedlots, Ament said. ``If you lose power, you can't pump water and you can't feed animals,'' he said.

Higher cattle costs may hurt profit margins for U.S. meatpackers such as Tyson Foods Inc., Cargill Inc., Swift & Co., National Beef Packing Co. and Smithfield Foods. Tyson, Swift and National in September said they were cutting production to reduce losses that at times approached $50 a head.

Many pregnant cows and younger feeder animals that graze in fields are missing, Ament said. ``This is going to have an impact all the way up the line,'' he said.

Tyson Foods is the biggest U.S. beef producer, followed by Cargill, Swift, National Beef Packing and Smithfield Foods. The U.S. is the largest producer, importer and consumer of beef.

 

joe

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http://abcnews.go.com/US/popup?id=2767797&content=&page=1
 

austin

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UPDATE

LAMAR, Colorado (AP) – Hundreds of hay bales fell from the sky Thursday as ranchers, pilots and snowmobilers raced to provide hay and drinking water to thousands of cattle left stranded by blizzards in the U.S. Midwest.


Time is short, officials said. Cattle, crucial to the region’s economy, can survive only five to 10 days without food or water in good conditions, Colorado state veterinarian John Maulsby said. Seven days have passed since a blizzard dumped up to 3 feet (0.9 meters) of snow and whipped up 10–foot (3–meter) drifts in eastern Colorado and on the Kansas and Nebraska plains.

Colorado officials estimated 30,000 head of cattle were at risk, but there was no estimate of deaths.

A prolonged drought had left little grass to eat even before the storm. The back–to–back holiday blizzards covered fences dividing pastures, scattering the animals.

Crews dropping hay were mostly seeing groups of 10 or 20, rather than 100 or more, said Dan Hatlestad, spokesman for the Southeast Area Operations Command.

Don Ament, the Colorado agriculture commissioner, said farmers and ranchers have told him the storm was worse than a 1997 blizzard that killed 30,000 cattle and cost $28 million in agriculture losses. One rancher could find only half of his 600–head herd, Ament said.

Colorado health and agriculture officials planned to meet Thursday to discuss what to do with dead and disabled cattle.

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Association estimated 100,000 to 200,000 cattle in the region’s open range.

On Wednesday, ranchers also rode with pilots to spot cattle and creeks for water. Crews in smaller helicopters landed near frozen streams and used sledgehammers to chop ice from the water.

The 20,000 bison on ranches in southeastern Colorado, western Kansas and Oklahoma were unaffected by the storm, partly because bison use their head and hump "like a big snowplow to get down to where the forage is," said Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association.

Last week’s storm was also blamed for the deaths of at least 13 people and widespread power outages. Officials said it could be weeks before power is restored to some of the most isolated, rural customers.

U.S. Senator Ken Salazar on Wednesday sought federal disaster relief for people and livestock in southeastern Colorado. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman also asked for a disaster declaration, as did the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

http://www.caycompass.com/cgi-bin/CFPnews.cgi?ID=1019009
 

JbarL

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back in the early/mid 90's...in norweigh.....several hundred reindeer missed the pass with the rest of the gorup before the winter storm, and were trapped for sure death......and as the sadness and helplesness set in..... the noreigian navy made its way to waters edge with bardges filled with hay and feed, and "saved" literally all the strayed bunch ...... (clapping).....the next year...after hundred of years of migration instinct..."all" the reindeer went to the waters edge and waited for the barges of hay and feed...... :(, and to this day, as far as i know they  still get "shuttled" on there "new"  migratory treck.  ???...........my heart goes out to all the ranchers and families, and ag and weather personnel who  must all share personal helpless feelings over this "incident"......but God has a plan  (clapping).....and i can always find  comfort and sense in that :).....merry christmas, and bless all of those effected by this trying event.    jbarl
 

knabe

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JbarL said:
..after hundred of years of migration instinct..."all" the reindeer went to the waters edge and waited for the barges of hay and feed
    jbarl

sounds like the welfare system.  amazing how easy it is to train animals, and even easier to train humans.  only with a ponzi scheme are behaviors changed and entitlements expanded.  this is "taking forward"
 
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