Recent severe flooding in the panhandle of Texas has resulted in significant cattle losses in the largest cattle-feeding region of the country. Ben Weinheimer, president and CEO of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, expressed uncertainty about the extent of livestock losses in the Hereford area as of May 31. However, he expressed gratitude for the overwhelming support received by the affected producers during this challenging time.
Efforts to clean up at the Circle 3 Feed Yard in Hereford have been a priority for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Laura L. Lopez, media and community relations manager at TCEQ, stated that the Amarillo office is assisting the feed yard in the proper disposal of dead livestock and debris according to TCEQ rules and regulations. However, the exact number of cattle lost has not been confirmed by TCEQ.
The worst of the flooding occurred in the Hereford area, where several large feedyards are located, according to John Robinson, senior vice president for communications at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. While all feedyards in the region experienced heavy rainfall, significant flooding was reported at a smaller, family-owned facility situated in a low-lying area near a river.
Reports indicate that most of the floodwaters have now receded, providing some relief to the affected areas. However, it remains challenging to determine the precise number of cattle lost during the flooding, with inaccurate information circulating on social media.
Officials from the Texas Department of Agriculture hope to provide an estimate of cattle losses soon. Additionally, they anticipate crop losses as some crops in the area had just been planted before the flooding occurred. The immediate concern is ensuring a sufficient supply of drinking water for both humans and livestock.
ShayLe Stewart, DTN livestock analyst, estimated the death toll to range from 3,000 to 10,000 head of cattle as of May 30. While this event could have a short-term positive effect on the cattle market due to reduced supplies, it is not expected to have a significant long-term impact, considering the small percentage it represents in relation to weekly slaughter production.
According to DTN Ag Meteorologist John Baranick, the heavy rainfall occurred on the evening of May 26 and continued into the morning of May 27. The Hereford area received substantial rainfall, with estimates of up to 10 inches. Baranick noted that the floodwaters receded quickly due to drought conditions, sandy soil, and low soil moisture levels in the region.
As of May 25, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicated that Deaf Smith County, where Hereford is located, was still experiencing D3 Extreme Drought conditions. The sudden and heavy rainfall brought relief from the drought but unfortunately resulted in devastating flooding.