PARKER COUNTY, Texas – North Texas ranchers are donating hay and delivering it to the Texas Panhandle, helping out as wildfires threaten to starve thousands of cattle.
"Those cattle, all their feed burned up," said Parker County rancher Ramey Keeth. "If we don't get something there, those cattle are going to starve to death."
Keeth is helping to coordinate a massive effort to help Panhandle ranchers. He's taking calls from neighbors willing to donate hay, and he's arranging for trucks to get them north as quickly as possible.
He's personally made the five hour drive twice with trailers full of hay, and he's seen the need.
"They don't have a way to make a living now. Everything going on up there is just sad," Keeth said. "There's a lot of cows up there without feed."
More than 400,000 acres have burned in the Texas Panhandle alone, with other enormous fires raging in Oklahoma and Kansas. The Texas A&M Forest Service says that the 318,000-acre Perryton Fire is the third largest the agency has ever seen.
Since Keeth put out the word to his neighbors and on Facebook, he's been flooded with offers of help.
Keeth said more than 1,200 bales have been donated so far, with more available if he can find the trucks to haul them. A single bale of hay can cost $40 to $75 or more, and it can feed 10 cows for about a day.
"Right now, trucks to haul the hay and feed to go on those trucks, that's the most desperate need," Keeth said.
Rancher Bobby Harris donated two trailers full of hay bales Thursday. He loaded them up himself, and Keeth will have them in the Panhandle by 8:30 a.m. Friday.
"If the shoe was on the other foot, I would appreciate some help," said Harris. "We have an abundance of hay right now in our area, and I'm glad to share it."
If you have supplies and want to help, call Ramey Keeth at (806) 548-0066.
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