With frigid temperatures affecting everything from the roads, to school closures, to busted water pipes, and power outages, one thing many aren’t considering is the effect on local livestock.
If you weren’t raised around livestock or currently in a situation where caring for outdoor animals is part of your day-to-day life, it can be easy to forget the harsh effects the cold can have on all animals. Local cattle rancher, Kresha Matkin, has called attention to this terrible reality through a Facebook post made calling for prayers from friends and family.
According to a post made Thursday, her ranch has experienced two tough losses of cattle already due directly to the winter weather. She says the difficulties go far beyond what anyone can see from an outside perspective. What may look like just needing to warm a few animals, becomes so much more.
Kresha and her husband Brad Matkin have been working nonstop since the start of this winter storm to make sure their cattle live through this. From dealing with equipment that won’t crank in the cold, to having to “shovel out all of the troughs before feeding hay and feed every day”. They are even having to physically bust up all of the water in the troughs several times a day to make sure the animals have access to food and water.
Kresha said that the entire Matkin family, including their kids, has jumped in to help. From “carrying feed buckets, to smashing ice in the water troughs, to holding gates in the snow and ice, I’m very proud of them!”
It’s clear the ranchers and their families are doing all they can to ensure a safe winter for the cattle they can save. Though the losses are still tough.
“It’s the most helpless feeling in the world to hold an animal while it dies and there’s nothing you can do about it. Just make it comfortable. We put many hours in this week though and hopefully, we are past the worst” Kresha expressed how difficult this situation has been on their entire family both physically and emotionally.
This tough winter is being felt across Sabine Parish. Kay Anthony, another local cattle farmer stated that; “it has taken all day to feed and hay the cattle. This has been rough on them and us! We’ve not seen anything like this in 36 years!”
While the effects of this storm on local agriculture and livestock may feel distant to anyone not directly involved, a bad season for farmers could have a drastic ripple effect on the local and statewide economy. According to the LSU Ag Center, agriculture plays a vital role in the statewide economy bringing in roughly $26 billion in revenue annually.
The Matkin family, the Anthony family, and so many more local ranch families have been working round the clock to care for their livestock to in turn be able to provide food for those across the parish and state as well.