Texas ranches fight to protect livestock in frigid conditions

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    Texas ranchers are scrambling to keep livestock alive during the historic winter storm — with the frigid conditions already killing some cows and other animals.

    Ranchers said they are forced to spend long, cold hours breaking up ice in water tanks and on frozen ponds in order to give the animals something to drink.

    In Whitesboro, Texas, rancher Austin Miles said he is filling a 300-gallon tank with water from a hose two to three times a day at his parents’ home then hauling it to the cattle.

    “This is extreme for us,” Miles said. “Our infrastructure was just not quite set up for these prolonged cold periods.”

    Kaylin Isbell, a rancher in Florence, said a few newborn cows and sheep have already died since they’re vulnerable to the shock of cold upon leaving their mothers’ wombs.

    She said her mother-in-law has resorted to taking the newly born sheep into a spare bedroom in her home to keep them sheltered from the icy temperatures.

    Cattle owned by rancher Austin Miles drink from a water tank, being used while their usual pond is frozen over during the cold weather bout, in Whitesboro, Texas, on Feb. 17, 2021.
    Cattle owned by rancher Austin Miles drink from a water tank, being used while their usual pond is frozen over during the cold weather bout, in Whitesboro, Texas, on Feb. 17, 2021.
    Austin Miles/Handout via REUTERS

    The freezing temps have also killed oats that Isbell planted for young cattle to graze on, she said.

    She predicted that she will have to sell animals earlier than expected in a move that would reduce her profit margins.

    “We just keep going,” Isbell said. “That’s all you can do.”

    Cattle roam a field as they graze with the rest of their herd Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 in Midland, Texas.
    Cattle roam a field as they graze with the rest of their herd Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021 in Midland, Texas.
    Eli Hartman/Odessa American via AP

    Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said that baby chicks are freezing to death since there is not enough natural gas to keep the hatcheries warm.

    “We’ve got an animal welfare issue going on,” he said.

    The Lone Star State has been hit the hardest by the winter storm, which put at one point more than four million homes and businesses out of power.

    A baby calf, born in the last few days, stands with its mother during a period of cold weather in Whitesboro, Texas, on Feb. 17, 2021.
    A baby calf, born in the last few days, stands with its mother during a period of cold weather in Whitesboro, Texas, on Feb. 17, 2021.
    Austin Miles/Handout via REUTERS

    The extreme weather has also been responsible for the deaths of more than 30 people.

    With Post wires



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