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Central Texas farmers, ranchers race against the weather to protect their livestock

Posted at 7:22 PM, Feb 16, 2021

Central Texas farmers and ranchers are doing everything they can to protect their livestock from the crippling cold.

In Valley Mills, one organic farmer is scrambling to protect his chickens.

Richard Seitz of Long Branch Farm has to use a hatchet to cut through the ice covering his horse's water trough.

"In these temperatures, multiple times a day," Seitz said.

Like everyone else, this is not the kind of weather he had in mind when he moved to Texas.

"Two feet of snow all the way down 600 feet of our driveway which is... that's, you know, Wyoming, Montana status snow. That's wild," Seitz said.

The part-time farmer has about 500 chickens.

Two of his hens, which were separated from the rest of the flock for medical reasons, didn't make it through the ice storm.

"It hit us fast and we didn't even have time to get those chickens out of there," Seitz said.

Blocking the wind and moisture, he explained, are key to keeping his flock alive.

"We were able to seal up our coop, every little hole, either with cardboard or feed bags just to keep the wind out. The wind is what kills the birds," Seitz said.

Heat lamps are keeping the chicken coop slightly warmer. It's in the teens inside where they are laying about 200 eggs a day.

"Surprisingly only had a few eggs break from being frozen," Seitz said.

The Texas Farm Bureau says livestock deaths due to the cold will have the biggest impact on farmers during the winter blast.

Keeping them fed and keeping their water from freezing over will be key to their survival.

"It's really just opened our eyes to you know we're really not as prepared as we thought we were," Seitz admitted.

A hard lesson learned.

For a look at how Long Branch Farm is benefitting from the pandemic, click here.