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Okla. drought leads to abandoned livestock

BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- State and agriculture officials say a lengthy drought that has scorched Oklahoma pastures and sent the price of hay skyrocketing is leading to an increase in abandoned livestock.

Gene Robbins and his dog, Blue, go out into his dried up pasture and feed the cattle every day.

"It was the worst I have ever seen in Oklahoma," Robbins explained.

The summer of 2011 brought lots of hardships to ranchers. The high temperatures and lack of rain helped drive hay prices sky high when the grass died early.

Some ranchers were forced to take drastic measures and leave their cattle to fend for themselves.

"A lot of them didn't have water. You can do without grass. Grass is easier," Robbins said.

Oklahoma Governor, Mary Fallin, along with the Department of Agriculture recently announced a plan to help.

The Oklahoma Livestock Relief Coalition was put together to help animals that have been neglected, abused, or abandoned. It will help animal shelters, local agriculture departments, and law enforcement with funds to rehabilitate animals.

Robert Bourne from the Bryan County Ag Extension Office said most people in our area haven't resorted to abandoning their animals, but he fears things could get worse. Bourne, along with ranchers from the area, thinks this program will be a big help.

"I think it's an excellent way to take care of those animals that may have been confiscated," Bourne said.

Luckily, Robbins doesn't have to sell or leave his cattle. But he is already worried about next summer.

"I can't afford to go and pay that kind of money for hay. Hopefully I won't have to next year."

Online:

http://www.okvma.org/


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