When the wildfires tore through the southern Plains, they destroyed homes, some peoples’ livelihoods, and even genetics.
Greg Gardiner, co-owner of the Gardiner Angus Ranch in Ashland, Kan., lost approximately 500 cattle in the blaze. The Gardiner family has been fine-tuning the genetic make-up of their Angus herd for years.
Some of Gardiner’s donor cows survived during the fire, saving multiple generations of genetics. Other ranchers are experiencing the same story; however, their losses might not be realized for years.
Five years ago, a drought plagued the southern Plains, causing producers to cull as much as 30 percent of their herd, according to Greg Henderson, editorial director of Drovers. To rebuild the herd, they used younger and more genetically desirable animals.
“The seed stock operations in the region lost many of the animals that would be next year’s breeding stock,” said Henderson. “The fires will represent more than a step back genetically for ranchers.”
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