Recovering scattered cattle from flooded pastures is only the beginning of the difficulties facing ranchers in coastal Louisiana following two hurricanes that could drive many out of business.Bad news for cows and the people who herd them.
Hardships unnumbered -- from tending sick cows to fending off opportunist buyers -- lie ahead for cattlemen in a region that produces about one-third of the state's beef.
Ranchers on Tuesday banded together and focused on rescue, but as they carted trailers full of cattle northward past pasture after ruined pasture, the troubles ahead were never far from their minds.
"It means profit and loss," said third-generation rancher Russell Greene, of Little Prairie. "If you have the backbone to stick it out, you'll start over. But a lot are going to get out."
From Lafourche to Calcasieu parishes, estimates of dead cattle start at 15,000, and as many as 30,000 could be in danger, said Bob Felknor, head of the Louisiana Cattlemen Association.
Roads leading into Vermilion Parish, one of the state's top beef producers, were clogged Tuesday by trailers, trucks pulling boats and other vehicles on rescue missions.
In Forked Island, it took a giant tractor, six horses and 11 men to move Andrew Granger's cattle along a levee to a makeshift corral.