Drover's News

Irma Hits Heart of Cattle Country in Florida, Alabama and Georgia

By Sara Brown, Livestock Digital Producer

Heavy rain and wind damage pummeled cattlemen from Florida, Alabama and Georgia this weekend, due to Hurricane Irma. The storm also gave an early start to the fall calving season. Here's a recovery update from the affected areas:

*/

 

Florida

“Ranchers in Florida are extremely wet, fences are down and producers are trying to operate without power as best they can. Irma came right through the heart of our state’s cattle country,” says Jim Handley, executive vice president, Florida Cattlemen’s Association. “We haven’t heard of catastrophic damages to buildings like the ’04 and ’05 hurricane seasons. But we have an enormous amount of chainsaw and front-end loader work ahead of us.”

“We had a good drying day Tuesday, and look forward to more,” he adds. “We have reports of fall calving cows having babies early and in the midst of the storm. Mosquitos will be an issue for our cattle this week as we dry out.”

Handley says the state association has canceled its FCA Replacement Heifer Sale planned for Friday. Most livestock markets came through without major damage and will resume operations possibly next week. Widespread hay supplies are not an immediate need, he adds, considering Florida’s longer growing season, but forage will likely be short this winter. Most Florida producers normally supplement in the winter, but those needs will be determined later, after water recedes. Click here to see Irma’s impact on Florida dairy producers.

On AgriTalk, Florida Farm Bureau president John Hoblick, says "We dodged a serious bullet." Hear his full interview:

Georgia

By the time Irma reached Will Bentley’s farm in west central Georgia, the storm was producing 65 mph wind gusts. “We’re 200-plus miles inland—it’s not often the eye of a hurricane comes that far,” he says.

There was lots of chain saw work for Bentley on Tuesday. Dozens of trees were down at his farm, as well as a large oak tree that fell onto a barn and office.

As executive vice president of the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, he said there hadn’t been reports of heavy losses of cattle or injury to producers in his state. “We have a lot of fences down, but most producers will have those repaired in the next few days.”

There was, however, many reports of cows starting fall calving season earlier than expected—some even delivering during the storm.

“We all know—cattle like to have babies in the worst weather,” he says. “They know when you are on vacation and when it’s getting ready to storm.”

Alabama

In typical cowboy fashion—producers were quicker to give than receive. On Tuesday, Richard Meadows, Alabama Cattlemen’s Association president, and producers from the Dale County, Ala., Cattlemen’s Association served meals to Hurricane Irma evacuees at the Ozark Civic Center in southern Alabama.

 

President Meadows joined the Dale Co. Cattlemen's Assn today to feed #Irma evacuees at the Ozark Civic Center in south #AL. @DroversCTN pic.twitter.com/qnnh8huE0G

— Alabama Cattlemen's (@ALCattlemen) September 12, 2017

 

Wind damage and down fences were also reported in Alabama. Erin Beasley, Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, says reports from producers in the southern part of the state listed downed trees, fence damage and heavy rain as the main affects from Irma.

“No immediate issues have arose yet in Alabama but we are prepared to help our neighboring states where needed,” Beasley says of producers needing supplies or assistance. “After speaking with some folks in Florida it sounds like many producers are looking for some dry weather in the next few days to start clean up.”

Alabama Department of Agriculture opened six shelters for livestock and horses before the storm arrived. Beasley said most of the animals housed were horses, but those facilities will be clearing out as producers return back home. Gas and cell service were likely to be the biggest factors for those traveling with livestock.

 

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 21:42:44 +0000
A Florida ranching icon and creator of the Braford breed Alto ‘Bud’ Adams, Jr. passed away at his family ranch on Sept. 23, at 91 years old.

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 21:04:01 +0000
When purchasing ranch-direct calves, Colorado cattle feeder Steve Gabel says “I won’t buy them without verification they’re received at least two doses of modified-live viral vaccine.”

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 18:38:00 +0000
Nebraska’s success luring Costco’s chicken processing plant to Fremont suggests they may be a fit for Tyson.

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 17:06:00 +0000
Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. is planning $28 million expansion of its Waterloo pork processing plant

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 15:20:00 +0000
It can be a challenge to keep up with the latest technology and how it might fit on your farm—which is exactly why Farm Journal is hosting the AgTech Expo. Whether you’re a novice, an early adopter or somewhere in between, you’ll have the opportunity to network with machinery and technology compa nies on the tradeshow floor and learn from a dozen hands-on experts.

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 21:09:00 +0000
Federal police in Brazil sent a formal request to prosecutors to pursue insider trading charges against Wesley and Joesley Batista, owners of JBS SA.

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 14:31:52 +0000
China could import up to 20 million tons of corn a year, more than six times the current level, to meet a switch to greater use of ethanol in fuel, an analyst predicted on Thursday.

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:08:00 +0000
Food companies and marketers should be careful what they name their products.

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 20:38:40 +0000
In recognition of a career of service to veterinary medicine and the cattle industry, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) presented Bob Smith, DVM, with the 2017 Distinguished Service Award. The presentation took place during the 50th annual AABP Conference in Omaha last week.

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 20:34:00 +0000
As we turn the calendar to fall, will summer-like weather stick around the Midwest? Mike Hoffman of AgDay shares the forecast for September 21 and beyond.