Thousands of cows die in California heat wave; disposing them becomes a problem

A heat wave has caused a spike in cattle deaths in recent weeks in California.
(Charles Osgood / Associated Press)

A heat wave has caused an increase in cattle deaths in recent weeks, prompting officials to take emergency actions.

In the San Joaquin Valley, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors on Thursday extended a local state of emergency originally declared June 30 because of increased livestock deaths that resulted from a heat wave, the Porterville Recorder reported.

Other counties have experienced similar problems.

Demand from Tulare and other counties for the rendering services required for disposing of the animals exceeded capacity. The problem was exacerbated when the local rendering facility had a mechanical breakdown that halted pickup and processing, a board agenda summary said.

Tulare County’s dairy industry alone has more than half a million cows.

“Cow mortality, that happens every day,” Tom Tucker, the county assistant agricultural commissioner, told the newspaper. “It’s the heat that has made it worse. It hasn’t stopped. We are losing our cows, and it is at an extreme.”

An estimated 4,000 to 6,000 cattle have died in the last month, Fresno County officials told KGPE-TV.

Shelby Grad contributed to this report.


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