Tragic, and sometimes there is little you can do. Be prepared to move your big animals early.
As a howling EF4 tornado ripped its way through eastern Nebraska on June 16 leaving horror in its wake, people headed to basements and cellars to hide from the wind and flying debris.
Livestock didn’t have that option.
The tornado, which led to the deaths of two people and killed hundreds of animals.
It’s unknown how many animals have died due to severe storms in Nebraska this spring. Producers aren’t required to report losses to the government, and businesses like cattle feeding operations generally don’t insure individual animals.
The number of large animals — cattle, hogs, sheep and horses — killed by the June 16 storm, which produced three funnels, could be about 1,000 in a six-county region, plus hundreds of poultry, said Marty Marks of the Wayne County USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Office.
The conservation service has offered $100,000 through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help dispose of animal carcasses. The funds are available to producers in Stanton, Wayne, Dixon, Thurston, Cumming and Cedar counties.
The majority of the cattle that died were in two of Herman Dinklage Inc.'s three feedlots. A barn was knocked over in the third lot, but no cattle died there.
Owner Jeff Dinklage said more than 650 cattle died or had to be euthanized. His Wayne County feedlot saw the most casualties.
“Some are still missing, so we’re not exactly sure yet, but the loss of cattle life was substantial,” he said.
The twister ripped up fencing and scattered the livestock that survived. Employees and volunteers rounded up more than 7,000 head of cattle after the storm. Veterinarians checked each animal.
Dinklage sent the carcasses to be rendered and shipped the surviving cattle to neighboring feed yards to be sorted for size and cared for.
“We lost everything,” Dinklage said. “There is no water, no power. I lost my feeding facilities and all our equipment was heavily damaged.”