POINTE COUPEE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Farmers are not the only ones scrambling to protect their crops from the sub-freezing temperatures. Cattlemen say the cold snap is taking a toll on their newborn calves, and that could eventually impact consumers.
Master cattleman and farmer, Matt Frey, farms 12,000 acres of land, 365 days a year. "We grow corn, rice, cotton, crawfish, sugarcane," Frey said.
But these days, he and his crew are spending most of their time tending to 300 acres of pasture. He says it's a "round the clock operation." Frey says his 200 heads of cattle feed on rye grass and hay, which help keep them warm, but the newborn calves can't handle the bitter cold.
"We have been treating about 40 calves," Frey said.
He showed 9News one calf that had just returned from the veterinarian. While Frey is trying to nurse it back to health, it appears to be dehydrated and not responding well to the medication. "They're having an e-coli issue in their stomach from the water in the mud getting on the utters and then they are sucking, and they are getting sick like that," Frey said.
Frey's cows are farmed for beef. He says once he gets them up to 800 lbs, he puts them up for sale. That typically happens in the summer, but Frey is concerned his profit will take a hit this year when he goes to market. "We are trying to fight not to have a ten percent loss. It's pretty tough," Frey said.
Frey is doing all he can to help keep the calves warm and well, but the cattleman is confident he's not the only farmer battling the effects of the cold and that could trickle down to the consumers.
"We are just a small operation. It may have an impact because the whole country is under a big time freeze right now, so the price of meat could go up," Frey said.
He says it's more of a long-term problem, but one that cattlemen can't afford to ignore.
And as for crawfish, Frey says the cold snap has not really affected his crop. He says the mud bugs usually take cover and stay warm in the rice fields.