Unexpected deaths of livestock reported in areas impacted by Hurricane Michael

Jamar Ivey cows in Webb AL
Jamar Ivey cows in Webb AL
Updated: Feb. 4, 2019 at 5:38 PM CST
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HOUSTON COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Farmers are still monitoring the impact of Hurricane Michael on their livestock. There have been reports of unexpected animal deaths in areas impacted by the storm - including southeast Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

A post on Facebook from a farm in Georgia raising questions about the deaths of animals has been shared over 4,000 times and has over 900 comments with farmers sharing their stories.

Jamar Ivey, president of the Houston County Chapter of the Alabama’s Cattlemen’s Association, says a cattleman contacted him about losing one of his cows three weeks ago. He says while cattlemen expect to lose older cows during the colder months - this death was unexpected.

“She was a rather young cow. It started with paralysis, and she kinda went down from there,” Ivey said.

Other veterinarians who serve the Wiregrass also reported receiving calls about animal loss since the storm.

Dr. William Terry of Hartford Veterinary Services and Supply says he’s had about 20 producers contact him about their livestock getting ill - particularly their stocker cows.

Dr. Robert Syfrett of South Park Veterinary Clinic in Dothan spoke to WSFA 12 News by phone. He was headed to talk to a cattleman in Georgia who had experienced livestock loss since the storm.

“They’ve had some issues since about two weeks after the storm,” Syfrett said.

He says some of the animals in this case have dealt with a blood parasite passed along through ticks - noting the hurricane knocked down fencing for the animals, and they may have been bitten in an area they wandered into.

Syfrett says pinpointing the main cause of the livestock deaths after the storm will be hard, but he does believe whatever it is was triggered by Michael.

“It could be anything, that’s the thing. It’s not going to be one thing,” Syfrett said. “Some of this they’re not going to see the full effect until months to years down the road.”

Ivey agrees the causes are varied. He says other possible reasons could be pneumonia from the cattle standing in wet, muddy rain soaked fields or eating bad hay.

“The biggest thing I think it probably is is all this rain we’ve had since Hurricane Michael. The ground is wet, real saturated," Ivey said. "The hay is wet that we’ve been feeding. The cows are having to stand in a lot of mud. You run a little bit of caution for pneumonia. It’s colder weather. It’s wet. They’re susceptible just like people are.”

Ivey doesn’t believe it’s an epidemic or something to be alarmed about for cattlemen but said something you should monitor if you have livestock.

We did reach out to the state veterinary clinic to see if we could get more information on the impact.

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