The Central Valley Has a Dead Cow Problem

Counties across the Central Valley are declaring emergency to cope with hordes of dead cattle and other livestock piling up on farms as a result of the state’s intense heat wave. Fresno, Kings and Tulare are among those grappling with the mounting number of carcasses right now. They’re seeing thousands more deaths than usual. 

“Cow mortality, that happens every day,” said Tulare’s Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Tom Tucker. “It’s the heat that has made it worse, it hasn’t stopped, we are losing our cows, and it is at an extreme.”

Mechanical problems at one of the local plants that disposes of deceased livestock has exacerbated the problem. As it turns out, the mechanical breakdown was a result of the increased pressure on machinery from all the dead animals, so this appears to be a vicious cycle.

The average cow weighs anywhere from 1,600 to 2,400 pounds, so disposing of its body is no easy feat. Leave a bunch of those lying around and you’re looking at some serious health and safety hazards.

No wonder county officials are having a cow.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Madera County was considering an emergency declaration. 



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