Thousands of Texas cattle may have died in wake of Harvey

A small herd of cows walk along high ground in the Hamshire area in Texas, Monday, Sept. 4, 2017. Several Chinook helicopters flown by the Michigan Army National Guard dropped bales of hay in the area to feed livestock stranded by Harvey floodwaters. (Guiseppe Barranco/The Beaumont Enterprise via AP)

HOUSTON (AP) — Texas agricultural officials fear thousands of cattle may have died in the aftermath of Harvey, resulting in losses to ranchers of tens of millions of dollars.

The counties that sustained damage when Harvey first came ashore Aug. 25 were home to 1.2 million head of cattle, representing 1-in-4 of all beef cows in Texas, the nation’s largest producer.

The Houston Chronicle reports that most ranchers don’t insure their herds because of the cost, so a rancher could be out hundreds of thousands of dollars if an entire herd drowned.

But agricultural economists don’t expect the losses to affect meat prices.

The beef cows in the coastal regions are mostly raised for breeding. Their calves are sent to Texas Panhandle feedlots where they grow to full size before going to slaughterhouses.

Click here for complete coverage of Hurricane Harvey.