CHICAGO – Texas ranchers worked overtime to haul water and hay to cattle to keep them alive during a freak winter storm, but some cows have already succumbed to unusual icy temperatures that also killed chickens, idled meat plants and threatened crops.
The deaths of baby cows in the top U.S. cattle state and struggles to care for surviving livestock are the latest challenges for ranchers who over the past year have dealt with COVID-19 cutting demand for meat at restaurants and shuttering slaughterhouses.
In Texas, home to more than 13 million cattle, ranchers said they are spending long, cold hours breaking up ice in water tanks and on frozen ponds so animals have something to drink. Icy conditions have turned diesel fuel into a useless gel in tractors. Ranchers said they are using gasoline-powered pickup trucks to transport hay that cattle can eat and use for warm bedding.
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