ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Ranchers impacted by the Mesquite Heat fires are now struggling to feed their livestock after thousands of acres of grazing land burned.

The Mesquite Heat fires turned what once was a thriving, fresh area of Taylor County, with rolling hills and green trees, into dry, ash covered land.

However, it was not just the flames that put local ranchers in a tough spot, but rather the last domino to fall.

“You know, with the heat we’ve had, grazing has been in short supply in general for people running cattle and horses,” said Assistant Manager at Jackson Bros. Feed, Kyle Jackson.

Between the near year-long drought, rising gas and fertilizer prices, as well as the fire, ranchers are now searching for ways to not only feed their livestock, but also keep them contained.

Fences damaged in the flames or cut by firefighters have to be repaired, and animals that usually graze must be fed.

The aftermath of the Mesquite Heat fires led both Jackson Bros. Feed & Seed, as well as the Taylor County Extension Office, to host, collect and donate hay, feed and fencing supplies.

“Our customers are very close to us, and anytime something like this happens we want to reach out and be a support,” Jackson said.

For Jackson Bros., they ask the community to give monetary donations at either location. Jackson said they will turn the total amount in to the Community Foundation of Abilene to be distributed evenly to those who need it.

Jackson Bros. Feed & Seed locations:

  • 3818 South Treadaway Boulevard
  • 241 Eeast South 11th Street

Taylor County Extension Agent, Steve Estes, said much of that acreage burned is not suitable for animals to graze for at least the next year while grass fully recovers from the damages. He said that has led to ranchers having to make some tough decisions regarding their livestock.

“It has forced some of our livestock producers, cattle producers, start selling… some of their animals,” Estes said. “I know of some that was that was already being sold this week.”

At the Taylor County Expo Center, the AgriLife Extension Office has been collecting larger donations of hay and fencing supplies that will be delivered to ranchers just south of Abilene.

Estes said within days of the fires erupting, they have received a constant flow of donations. He said when one truckload of hay or fencing would come in, it would only be a half hour later that it was getting sent out.

“The big thing, from our end, is helping them [ranchers] at least make that transition,” Estes included. “Kind of get him back going, so provide some supplemental feed in the in the short term.”

While they can’t fix the long-term solution without plentiful rain, Estes told KTAB/KRBC that they can at least slow down the need for them to purchase unnecessary feed. He said that with early feedback he’s received, they are doing well in their efforts.

Estes said the Extension Office will likely slow down their donation intake, so as to not overflow the Expo Center grounds and to make sure they have exactly what they need to give out.

To donate supplies at the Expo Center, call the AgriLife Extension Office at (325) 672-6048 and schedule a time for delivery. Estes said the middle of next week is when donations will likely close.