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Texas ranchers say thousands of cattle may have died in wake of Harvey

Cattle graze around flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey near Sandy Point, Texas, U.S. August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

Texas agricultural officials fear thousands of cattle may have died in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, resulting in losses to ranchers of tens of millions of dollars.

The counties that sustained damage when Harvey first came ashore Aug. 25 were home to 1.2 million head of cattle, representing one-in-four of all beef cows in Texas, the nation’s largest producer.

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The Houston Chronicle reports that most ranchers don’t insure their herds because of the cost, so a rancher could be out hundreds of thousands of dollars if an entire herd drowned.

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But agricultural economists don’t expect the losses to affect meat prices.

The beef cows in the coastal regions are mostly raised for breeding. Their calves are sent to Texas Panhandle feedlots where they grow to full size before going to slaughterhouses.