HASKELL COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), extreme weather is to blame for the deaths of thousands of cows in Southwest Kansas over the weekend.
Dr. Miles Theurer, a veterinarian, works with 16 feed lots in Kansas, 10 of which were impacted by those extreme conditions.
Dr. Theurer says that in his six-year career in the feed yard industry, he has never seen conditions like this that led to what he calls the perfect storm.
“I hope I never have to see anything like it again,” Dr. Theurer said. “Being out there with the crews, it’s very demoralizing.”
For several feed lots in Haskell County, crews worked nonstop to provide extra water tanks and bedding for livestock, prioritizing pens in need of the most care.
“The sad part was that most of these cattle were nearing the end point of near harvest,” Dr. Theurer said.
The KDHE says at least 2,000 head of cattle were lost across the region, an estimated $4 million loss.
“Our normal death losses, on a typical, you know, month basis, we would be in that one to one-and-a-half percent range … we’re well above those numbers,” Justin Waggoner, a beef cattle specialist with Kansas State University Extension, said.
According to the Kansas Livestock Association, the effects of this devastating blow to feed lots will not be felt by consumers.
“This will not create any kind of supply chain issues. They’re going to continue to see plenty of beef in their meat case. This should not create a pricing issue,” Scarlett Hagins with the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) said.
Despite the rarity of events of this scale, Dr. Theurer says staying proactive is key.
“This was something from a weather event that, I mean, hasn’t happened in the, in this area, [that] I know of, [in] the last 60 years, and so, that’s how we have to think about that as well in the future,” Dr. Theurer said.