Wintry weather increases workload for Central Texas livestock ranchers

Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 6:29 PM CST
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GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) - Farmers and ranchers across the region have been working through the brutally cold weather.

Several days of below freezing temperatures this week made farming and raising livestock even more difficult for farmers and ranchers like Erika Archie, who raises cattle and sheep near Gatesville.

“It kind of complicates things because, you know, it freezes up our water troughs,” Archie said. “So every morning and every evening, and a few times during the day, we have to come out here and make sure the water is not frozen in the water troughs. And animals really like to have babies when its cold out.”

Tracy Tomasick with the Texas Farm bureau said the cold weather is worse for those who raise livestock than for crop farmers.

“The other crops that have been seen growing through the spring and summer months, generally have not been planted yet, like, primarily, corn, cotton,” Tomasick said.

So, while crop farmers were largely off the hook this week ranchers have had to rely on lessons they learned during last year’s deadly freeze, like stockpiling hay as animals tend to eat more to keep warm during colder weather.

“The biggest lesson that I’ve heard over and over is that no one is taking this for granted anymore,” said Tomasick. “You know, unfortunately, those extreme conditions in 2021, they were prolonged extreme conditions. There were things like livestock and wildlife losses and, so far, this storm has just been a glimpse of what that was a year ago.”

Archie said through the frequent bouts of severe weather lately, she and other farmers and ranchers have a renewed commitment to growing and raising the best food for their communities.

“It’s not like farmers and ranchers are the only people who are out working during the cold but we do it because we love what we do,” said Archie.

According to Texas A&M Agrilife, the February 2021 winter storm caused $600 million in agricultural loses of both crops and livestock across the state.

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