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Intense Heat Has Killed Thousands of Cattle in Kansas
USAgNet - 06/21/2022

Intense heat that baked Kansas over the weekend is being blamed for killing thousands of cattle--a toll documented in striking images on social media.

"The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is aware of at least 2,000 cattle deaths that occurred in the southwest part of Kansas," Matt Lara, the agency's communications director, told NPR on Thursday.

Lara also confirmed conditions had made it "difficult for the cows to stay cool."

Farms.com reports that in widely seen video footage, rows of carcasses are shown lined up along the edge of a farm field. State officials are blaming a heat wave that sent temperatures higher than 100 degrees.

The new losses come as farmers across the Great Plains region are already struggling to cope with drought and high winds, along with the increased threat of wildfires.

The figure from the state health and environment agency reflects only the losses at farms that asked for help in disposing of carcasses, suggesting the actual tally could be higher.

A spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Agriculture confirmed to NPR on Thursday that "several weather factors combined which led to heat stress for cattle that impacted cattle producers."

But the representative also noted that cattle ranches aren't required to report those losses, "so we don't have any data about the extent of the impact."

Dangerous weather conditions aren't confined to any one county in Kansas, where beef cattle dominates the agriculture sector, making it one of the main cattle-producing U.S. states.

Nearly the entire western half of Kansas is currently classified as abnormally dry or in a drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor website.


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