Many cattle farms injured by Charley but no deaths reported

KISSIMMEE, Florida, August 19, 2004: Sixty-three percent of Florida ranches, stocked with approximately 1.2 million head of beef cattle, were significantly damaged by Hurricane Charley, reported the Florida Cattlemen's Association. The storm destroyed fencing and caused farm structural damage on approximately nine million acres of cattle ranches in Florida. The state’s largest populations of cattle are located within fourteen of the twenty-five counties designated as federal disaster areas. Charlotte, Desoto, Polk, Hardee, Highlands and Osceola counties were the areas where cattle ranches suffered the most damage.

Fortunately, the Florida Cattlemen's Association also reports that based on their communications with cattle ranchers, their employees and families, there was no reported loss of life.

In preparation for the storm, many ranchers tied open the interior gates of their ranches to give their cattle the ability to access more drinking water and mobility to dryer, higher ground. A ranch’s routine pasture rotation is often thrown off by a period of heavy rain but allowing cattle to roam a larger range insures they have access to adequate grazing.

During storms, cattle generally get along pretty well in pastures as long as some debris does not hit them. They are safer in a pasture than in a confined structure that may collapse on them. However they do need dry ground to lie on and to graze. Cattle move away from standing water in pastures, primarily to avoid mosquitoes. Unlike other livestock, cattle are not typically kept in structures so flooding is less of a concern. Also, supplemental feed is usually not necessary for cattle on range during summer months as long as they have access to dry grassland for nourishment. Many cattle are lost every year in Florida due to lightning strikes but there have been very few reports of any cattle fatalities from Hurricane Charley.

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