After Blizzard, Ranchers Track Down Wayward Cattle Online

A Facebook group started by a West Texas rancher helped families find their cattle after a blizzard swept through the area in late December.

By Laura RiceJanuary 7, 2016 4:15 pm|

It’s been close to two weeks since a massive snow storm brought havoc to West Texas and the Texas Panhandle. Many people in the cattle industry are still dealing with the effects. We reported earlier this week how snow drifts suffocated thousands of cows. Others got loose when fences blew down during the storm.

Now, ranchers and dairymen are using technology to help them catch up with the bovines. More than 4,000 people have joined the Facebook page “Cattle Lost and Found” since it went up three days after Christmas.

Landon Weatherly, based in Hereford, started the Facebook page. He says they started preparing a few days before the storm, bringing “square bales” trailers into the pastures to protect the cattle for the incoming blizzard.

“They protect those cattle from that north, northeast wind,” he says. “It helps with the wind, it helps with the snow… [we] basically sat at home for two days during the storm and optimistically hope that what we did was enough to protect ’em.”

He says it was “disheartening” to not see his cattle during the storm.

“For two days, you could not get out there to see your cattle,” he says. “It’s probably one of the worst feelings you can have.”

Weatherly said his relatives, who have relied on cattle for their livelihood, were upset because they couldn’t go out to check. His family had 60-80 cattle get out, but they found them with five miles of their land. He heard stories of cows up to 60 miles away.

“If they can get on the road, like a north-south road, they can start walking,” he says. “They congregate up against the fences and they will actually push the fences over and start walking.”

The search was “pretty successful,” Weatherly says. People posted pictures of the cattle tags and brands to the Facebook page so those who lost their cattle could search for them.

“As far as being able to help people, that’s all I wanted to do,” he says. “It worked for dozens of families.”

Weatherly says a lot of ranchers have insurance on their cattle. They need proof about what happened to their livestock, so he says the pictures posted online could help them with their claims.

“When calves cost a thousand bucks or more, you’re going to protect ’em with all you got,” Weatherly says. “If you’ve got a couple thousand of them, you’re talking millions of dollars out in your pasture.”