Blizzard Kills Cattle; Meat Prices Could Jump

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Thousands of cattle are expected to turn up dead thanks to last week's treacherous snow storm.

But ranchers say, thousands more might be dead if it hadn't been for the National Guard and hundreds of volunteers.

The price of meat could also go up because of the loss in cattle.

But experts say, it's too soon to tell.

Ranchers want to wait and see exactly how many cattle die from this storm before determining if the loss is great enough to have to pass the costs down to consumers.

The question of whether the price for a nice piece of meat will go up, is rotating in the minds of consumers and local butchers.

Jay Buckingham asked his butcher if beef prices will be effected.

Buckingham says. "Frank says not to worry about it. All is going to be well."

It's a concern that's warranted, especially after seeing the kind of disaster the storm left.

Frank Javornik, owner of Frank's Meats in Pueblo, says, "Probably see it later down the road instead of immediately."

So far, more than 3,500 cattle, in six Southeastern counties, are believed to be dead.

Ranchers are waiting, first, for the snow to melt before doing a final count.

But even then, that number could change quickly.

Leonard Pruett, an Extension Agent says, "They [cattle] get moisture in their lungs and then they begin to die later on."

One to two weeks later on.

And it could take that much time before seeing if the price of beef goes up or stays the same.

Pruett says, "The cattle are losing weight. The ranchers are having to buy additional feed. The feed costs are getting higher everyday."

Javornik says, "It'll probably have a trickle down effect."

Javornik also says, even if it does trickle down to consumers, the jump will be small.

But here's another question, does the average consumer mind?

Buckingham says, "No, no, I mean it's to be expected."

The blizzard of 1997 killed 30,000 cattle.

There was a hike in the price of meat, but it was mostly passed down to wholesalers.