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.
“Naturally, estimates may increase as a more comprehensive assessment of the losses is completed,” Peel says.
The estimates do not include any evaluations for vehicle and equipment losses or homes or other personal property destroyed in the fires.
Hay will be in high need for impacted producers and drought in surrounding region will not help.
“The burned pastures and hay left many thousands of animals displaced and in need of emergency feed,” Peel says. “Demand for hay and pasture from the fire is adding to pressure on diminished hay supplies in the broader drought area.”
Hay donations are being accepted by local agents through the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service are helping facilitate donations of hay, feed, milk replacer and fencing supplies. The following phone numbers can be called to setup a donation through the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service:
There are also ways to make monetary donations through the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation, the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation and the Oklahoma Farmers Union Foundation.