Texas crop, weather

From AGNMORE (Agriculture and More) News from Texas AgriLife Extension Service and AgriLife

COLLEGE STATION – As Southeast Texas and the Gulf Coast deal with cattle orphaned by Hurricane Ike, most of the rest of the state received cooler temperatures and rain – lots of rain.

Parts of Chambers and Jefferson counties, south of U.S. Interstate 10 and Highway 73, received storm surges from 8 feet to as high as 18 feet, said Dr. Jason Cleere, Texas AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist.

"We don't really have good numbers on actual death losses, but they appear to be substantial," said Cleere, who visited the area Sept. 16 to deliver feed and water troughs.

The surviving cattle he saw were doing relatively well considering what they had been through, Cleere said. But because the surge was of salt water, recovery of the pastures will most likely be no sooner than spring, he said.

"In a survey of a major part of Chambers County and some of Jefferson County, some 15,000 cattle have been found," said Andy Vestal, AgriLife Extension liaison to the State Operations Center for Hurricane Ike. "This is not all the cattle expected to be found stranded or dead, but it is a good start in locating these animals that are in dire need of assistance."

Vestal said that the area and land surveys post-Ike are far from complete and more cattle could be found.

Providing fresh water and hay to these cattle has been a top priority since Hurricane Ike made landfall because of the impact that the surge had on feed and water resources, Cleere said. AgriLife Extension as well as other government and industry groups have teamed up to provide relief to ranchers in the area with Operation No Fences: Hurricane Ike Horse and Cattle Relief. Cleere said those who wish to make money donations to the operation may call 979-845-2604. For hay, feed, fencing or trucking donations call the Texas Department of Agriculture at 800-835-5832.

One-hundred and fifty miles to the north in East Texas, AgriLife Extension personnel were still assessing the damage. There was major disruptions of power, but little livestock loss was reported, said Chad H. Gulley, AgriLife Extension agent for Nacogdoches County.

"Hurricane Ike was still a category 1 storm when it came over Nacogdoches with sustained winds of 75 to 95 miles per hour," Gulley said. There were, of course, timber losses and structural damages to homes, fences and barns, Gulley said. There were also problems at poultry houses where there was no electricity and problems acquiring feed.

View more of our coverage on the BEEF Hurricane Ike site.