Oklahoma wildfires cause $26 million in damages for cattle ranchers

Nearly 350,000 acres in northwest Oklahoma burned in two wildfires causing an estimated $26 million in damages for cattle producers.

Projections put together by Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension livestock marketing specialist, take into account estimates from state agencies on damage such as lost feed, burnt fences and dead livestock.

Starting on April 12, the Rhea and 34 Complex fires burned almost 350,000 acres combined before being contained on April 26. Data from the Oklahoma Forestry Services shows:

  • 34 Complex in Woodward County burned 62,481 acres
  • Rhea Fire in Dewey County burned 286,196 acres
  • The total damage calculated by Peel comes to $26.4 million for Oklahoma’s beef producers.

Estimated cattle industry losses in Oklahoma include:

  • $16.4 million for fence replacement and repair
  • $1.4 million for livestock killed or destroyed as a result of the fire plus veterinary costs and reduced value of surviving injured animals
  • $6.3 million for burned facilities and corrals
  • $1.6 million for emergency feed
  • $660,000 for burned pasture and hay

The most devastating loss emotionally for many producers are an estimated 1,600 dead cattle from the fires. However, fencing lost from the fires will take the highest financial toll with an estimated 2,100 miles of fence were damaged or destroyed in the fires.

Source: Drovers