Farmer Loses 600 Cattle To Extreme Heat
By Hailey Higgins
Published: July 20, 2011, 5:29 PM
ESTELLINE, SD - Our extreme heat wave is nearing an end, but it isn't coming soon enough for some farmers.
A cattle farmer near Estelline lost 600 head of cattle in a matter of days due to the heat. And with each animal valued at $1,500, owner Roland Rust is projecting a loss close to a million dollars.
Rust has been in the cattle business for nearly 40 years and he's never experienced a loss quite like this.
While it is common for a few cows to perish in the summer heat, nearly half of his 1,300 cattle herd is now buried.
"We thought we had our ducks in a row on this cattle," Rust said. "And we thought this was our banner year. But it didn't prove that way, I guess."
Rust first noticed signs of heat stroke Monday morning and then things went from bad to worse.
"It got real humid and stale. At about noon we could see we were in trouble and by two o'clock they just started dropping."
Over the next two days, 600 Angus cattle would eventually give in to the heat, despite the fire department spraying water to cool them down.
Rust says at one point, cattle were dying faster than he could count.
The cattle was prime and less than a month away from being sold at market. The loss is valued at $900,000.
"It is a major setback, but we will continue as best we can," Rust said.
At this point Rust is trying to move on and is weighing his options, which includes closing the farm and retiring.
And while he expects a few more cattle will die, Rust says he is thankful for the dozens of people who helped cool down and bury the animals.