COLLEGE STATION — Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel will soonbegin assessing recovery needs for livestock producers and pet owners as residents grapple with ongoing flooding along the Gulf Coast.
AgriLife Extension experts said the U.S. Department of Agriculture inventory estimated there were more than 1.2 million beef cattle alone within the 54 Texas counties on the emergency declaration list.
Dr. Andy Vestal, AgriLife Extension specialist in emergency management, College Station, said many ranchers along the coast moved their animals to higher ground and several sale barns and fairgrounds were acting as holding stations for livestock.
Vestal said shelters for companion animals and livestock have been set up around the state to harbor and care for displaced pets and farm animals.
Pet and livestock owners can call 2-1-1 if they are seeking a small or large animal shelter or holding facility in an area that is not listed or contact the emergency management department in the area.
Below is a list of 50 shelters/holding facilities. Residents are encouraged to call the facility first to check availability and capacity because conditions change frequently.
Dr. Ron Gill, AgriLife Extension livestock specialist and associate department head for animal science at Texas A&M University, College Station, said he and other AgriLife Extension personnel will be cooperating with lead agencies as they prepare to enter affected areas to assess losses and short- and long-term needs for producers and their animals there.
“We will be following the lead of the Texas Animal Health Commission and alongside professional organizations like the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association to start assessing where and when we can go in to see what producers and landowners need now and will need over the next few months,” he said. “The flooding is making it difficult and we can’t get in the way while first responders are trying to get people out. Livestock are a secondary concern right now, but we do want producers and landowners to start thinking about what kind of help they will need long-term.”
Gill said responders expect needs for supplies, veterinary assistance and feed, but that agencies will begin announcing those needs to the public as assessments are made.
“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” he said. “We know that there are ample supplies of hay in Texas that were not affected, and we know cattle producers along the coast will need to be supplied because many of their grazing pastures could be underwater to a point that they may go dormant or die. We are working to meet the veterinary and nutritional needs for those producers over the short- and long-term, but we need to make assessments and that’s difficult right now because it’s still raining.”
Gill said waters appear to be receding quicker after this storm due to relatively low runoff from tributaries to the north of the flooding. But those conditions could change as the storm continues to move across areas already flooded.
“We will probably go to the west side of the storm where the hurricane made landfall to begin our assessment and then work our way toward the remaining areas,” he said. “We also have AgriLife Extension agents in those areas who are helping make early assessments and coordinating the overall efforts to evacuate animals.”