Thousands of cattle killed by excessive heat were dumped into a landfill this week by beef companies, Reuters reported Tuesday, where the decaying carcasses were flattened and mixed with household trash, a deadly and unusual result of excessive heat.
A series of heat waves kept high temperatures in the 80s, 90s and low 100s across southwestern Kansas for over a month, killing at least 2,000 cattle in June, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, although social media posts estimated the number could be as much as 3,000
Even though cows that die of heat stroke are typically brought into processing plants where they’re made into animal food and fertilizer, those facilities were already overwhelmed, and Kansas cattle companies and the state government were left with few options but the landfill, Reuters reported.
State officials directed companies to pour dead cattle into a landfill in Liberal, Kansas, but are now reconsidering the location to reduce the risk of foul smell, the landfill director told Reuters.
The Kansas Department of Agriculture did not respond to a request for comment from Forbes.
6.5 million. That’s the number of cattle in Kansas, the third largest cattle state, behind Texas and Nebraska. The cattle industry brought in $8.93 billion in 2019, 55% of Kansas’ agricultural revenue, and employed 37,382 people according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture.
What To Watch For
More dead cattle. The heat wave that scorched much of the Midwest, Northeast and South this week brought temperatures in Kansas, the third-largest cattle producing state, into the upper 90s, with heat indexes into triple-digits. The USDA’s research service forecasts emergency-level heat stress for cattle in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, southeast Kansas, southern Missouri, and parts of Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington.
Reports since emerged of cattle companies burying carcasses in unlined pits, posing an environmental concern around leakage into the groundwater, Reuters reported.
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