Texas Field Reports: AgriLife Extension Personnel to Assess Flooding Impact on Livestock, Pets

    Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel will soon begin assessing recovery needs for livestock producers and pet owners as residents grapple with ongoing flooding along the Gulf Coast.  

    AgriLife Extension experts said the U.S. Department of Agriculture inventory estimated there were more than 1.2 million beef cattle alone within the 54 Texas counties on the emergency declaration list.

    Dr. Andy Vestal, AgriLife Extension specialist in emergency management, College Station, said many ranchers along the coast moved their animals to higher ground and several sale barns and fairgrounds were acting as holding stations for livestock.

    Vestal said shelters for companion animals and livestock have been set up around the state to harbor and care for displaced pets and farm animals.

    Pet and livestock owners can call 2-1-1 if they are seeking a small or large animal shelter or holding facility in an area that is not listed or contact the emergency management department in the area.

    Click here for a list of 50 shelters/holding facilities. Residents are encouraged to call the facility first to check availability and capacity because conditions change frequently.

    Dr. Ron Gill, AgriLife Extension livestock specialist and associate department head for animal science at Texas A&M University, College Station, said he and other AgriLife Extension personnel will be cooperating with lead agencies as they prepare to enter affected areas to assess losses and short- and long-term needs for producers and their animals there.

    “We will be following the lead of the Texas Animal Health Commission and alongside professional organizations like the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association to start assessing where and when we can go in to see what producers and landowners need now and will need over the next few months,” he said. “The flooding is making it difficult and we can’t get in the way while first responders are trying to get people out. Livestock are a secondary concern right now, but we do want producers and landowners to start thinking about what kind of help they will need long-term.”

    Gill said responders expect needs for supplies, veterinary assistance and feed, but that agencies will begin announcing those needs to the public as assessments are made.

    “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” he said. “We know that there are ample supplies of hay in Texas that were not affected, and we know cattle producers along the coast will need to be supplied because many of their grazing pastures could be underwater to a point that they may go dormant or die. We are working to meet the veterinary and nutritional needs for those producers over the short- and long-term, but we need to make assessments and that’s difficult right now because it’s still raining.”

    Gill said waters appear to be receding quicker after this storm due to relatively low runoff from tributaries to the north of the flooding. But those conditions could change as the storm continues to move across areas already flooded.

    “We will probably go to the west side of the storm where the hurricane made landfall to begin our assessment and then work our way toward the remaining areas,” he said. “We also have AgriLife Extension agents in those areas who are helping make early assessments and coordinating the overall efforts to evacuate animals.”

    AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

    CENTRAL: Hurricane Harvey brought heavy rainfall. Some areas received more than 8 inches. Rains have hindered harvesting efforts. Producers saw an increase in Bermudagrass stem maggot damage. Livestock were in good condition. Rains have hindered harvesting efforts. Some farmers were still trying to harvest corn, and cotton was waiting to be stripped.

    Producers expected to soon look at their cotton fields for damages incurred. Grasses and forages were good. Livestock had plenty to eat, and tanks and streams were full. Nearly all counties reported good soil moisture. Overall crop conditions were good.

    ROLLING PLAINS: Cooler weather set in with rainfall in different areas. Pastures looked a lot better with the recent rains and were providing adequate grazing for livestock. Producers greatly decreased supplemental feeding. Cotton acres planted back in haygrazer were looking very promising after timely rains. Some producers cut and baled some haygrazer and will likely get a second cutting.

    Sorghum and corn fields looked good, but farmers couldn’t get in the fields to harvest due to high moisture. Producers got another cutting of hay and may get another thanks to moisture received over the past few weeks. Wise County reported a record setting corn harvest in areas.

    COASTAL BEND: No report.

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    EAST: Rain continued to fall across the region as Hurricane Harvey moved inland. Pasture and rangeland conditions were mostly fair to good. Panola, Rusk, Shelby and Gregg counties reported excellent conditions. Fields and pastures were saturated in Cherokee County. Jasper County reported heavy rains and flooding. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were adequate to surplus. In Smith County, hay still needed cutting but producers were holding off due to showers in the area.

    In Gregg County, conditions were too wet for many producers to harvest warm-season forages. Panola County reported lush grazing pastures and plenty of forages. Armyworms were reported in Shelby and Wood counties. Vegetable crops slowed in production or stopped. Producers were putting in fall gardens in Marion County. Cattle were in good to excellent condition. Cows and calves were fat and growing.

    SOUTH PLAINS: Weather was cooler and subsoil and topsoil moisture remained adequate due to continued rain. Scouting reports indicated cotton ranged from just starting to bloom to hard cut-out. Heat units were still needed to finish out the cotton. Grain sorghum was being scouted on a weekly basis now for sugarcane aphids. All other crops continued to mature. Pasture and rangeland conditions improved with the recent moisture. Cattle were in good condition.

    PANHANDLE: Conditions were cloudy, and temperatures continued to be below normal. Some areas received traces of rain. Soil moisture was good to adequate and was received off and on throughout most of the district. Irrigation ceased on all crops for the summer growing season. Rangelands were in very good condition for this time of year.

    Producers plowed and sprayed for weeds in fields to be planted with wheat. Planting for wheat should start soon. Corn progressed well with good growth. Sorghum headed out, and grain fill was rapid. Sugarcane aphid numbers were starting to increase, and some producers were spraying. Cotton looked good but needed sunshine and heat.

    NORTH: Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels ranged from mostly adequate to surplus. Most counties received rain ranging from 2-5 inches. Pastures looked great for this time of year and were thriving due to above-normal rainfall and below average temperatures. Cotton and soybeans were doing well. The corn harvest continued to produce above-average yields.

    Hay production continued in spite of the rain. Livestock were in great condition and were relieved by cooler weather, but horn flies were bad in some counties. Spring-born calves looked good. Armyworms were reported in some counties, and sugarcane aphids were present on sorghum and Sudan varieties. Pecans looked good and should produce a decent crop this year.

    FAR WEST: Temperature highs were in the 90s and lows in the 60s. Rain amounts were 0.45 to 3 inches for the reporting period. Much of the district continued to receive daily rain showers. Corn and sorghum harvests made steady progress in between scattered, spotty showers. Rain was beneficial to cotton as many fields continued blooming at the same node for two weeks.

    Dryland cotton was putting a lot of fruit on and holding it. Irrigated cotton started to shed some small bolls. Pastures were greening up and looked much better. Weeds and grasses were growing due to the moisture.  Alfalfa and Sudan producers were most affected by weeds because they have not been able to harvest fields.

    Pecan trees still needed water. Water was standing in ditches causing an influx of weeds, snakes and mosquitos. Late sheep, goats and bad ewes were shipped. Producers continued to feed livestock and wildlife.

    WEST CENTRAL: No report.

    SOUTHEAST: No report.

    SOUTHWEST: Some counties received much needed rain, but others remained dry as Hurricane Harvey passed. Temperatures remained high and humid. Hay was rolled up in some areas, and corn harvest neared the end. Pasture conditions should improve for counties that received rain. Others remained dry but in decent condition.

    SOUTH: The district received rainfall in some areas. The area was spared from damaging winds and any storm damage. Rain amounts ranged from half an inch to almost 5 inches. Conditions were hot, dry and windy for other areas. Temperature highs fluctuated from 80-100 degrees. Soil moisture levels were short in areas that did not receive rain.

    Cotton harvest was ongoing in some areas and was close to harvest in others, and peanuts were getting close to harvest time as well. Pasture and rangeland conditions improved with recent rainfall, but supplemental feeding was occurring at a steady pace. Some producers began planting oats on dryland fields. Sorghum and corn harvests were complete. No major livestock issues were reported due to Hurricane Harvey. Some vegetables were planted and more planting was to come.

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