Warmer Weather, Thin Ice Prove Fatal To Oklahoma Cattle


Thursday, February 17th 2011, 2:33 pm
By: News On 6


Lacie Lowry, News On 6

RAMONA, Oklahoma -- Warmer temperatures were devastating for some ranchers in Ramona this week.

The Short Ranch lost 56 cattle when the animals ventured onto frozen ponds that had thawed just enough to crack under the weight.

"Everything was frozen. The ice was so thick you could drive a truck on it and it would probably hold you. But after the sunshine came out, it started melting," Armando Rodriguez said.

Armando Rodriguez counts the cattle every morning. They had no losses during the blizzard, but when some were missing on Tuesday, he knew something was wrong.

"If you are missing something, you come looking for it. We knew kinda knew this was going to happen, but we didn't expect this many," he said.

Rodriguez and some hired hands spent Wednesday and Thursday removing the carcasses from six different ponds. It wasn't easy with the bodies so spread out.

They had to bring in a back hoe and a dump truck to haul them away.

The owner of Short Ranch is selling the carcases to a warehouse that makes dog food.

The money he's getting per head is a very tiny percentage of what the steers would have been sold for on the market.

Mike Hadley says he's never used the truck for this before.

"It's the worst one I've heard of," Hadley said. "I've seen them struck by lightning and kill a whole set, but I've never seen this bad of a deal in Oklahoma."

The ranch lost a small fraction of the total herd – 2.5 percent. But when ranchers expect to lose only 1 percent the entire year, the impact is significant.

"We've never lost this many. We always lost some, maybe a couple, even one, but we never lost this many," Rodriguez said.

The owner of Short Ranch is selling the carcases to a warehouse that makes dog food.

The money he's getting per head is a very tiny percentage of what the steers would have been sold for on the market.