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calendar   Friday - March 30, 2012

Recovery? What Recovery?

In Texas, Even The Donkeys Are Unemployed



image

forget peanuts, this one will work for hay



With pastures withered from a lingering drought, farmers in Texas and northwest Louisiana have abandoned donkeys by the hundreds, turning them into wandering refugees that have severely tested animal rescue groups.

The nation’s biggest donkey rescue group says that since March 2011, it has taken in nearly 800 donkeys abandoned in Texas, where ranchers mainly used the animals to guard their herds. Many of the cattle and goats have been sold off, largely because of the drought and the nation’s economic slump, putting the donkeys out of a job.

The donkey market has shriveled with the dried-up fields of Texas, where auction houses won’t take them.

“The last ones we tried to sell, they brought the donkeys back to us. They tried to get a $5 bid for both of them and couldn’t get a $5 bid,” Deputy Bill Pentecost, who wrangles stray livestock for the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office north of Austin, said last month.

Texas has 1.4 million fewer cattle than it did a year ago, a drop of 10.5 percent.

“Texas has large, large, large, large ranches. As the wells dried up and grazing’s gone down, animals are coming up to the fence to eat. People are realizing they’ve sold all their cattle … but they’ve got 20 donkeys,” Meyers said earlier this year.

Ranchers use donkeys to guard remote herds. Donkeys instinctively don’t like dogs of any kind, including coyotes and wolves, and will pretty much attack them on sight. Most of the guard donkeys are close to feral. Ranchers have taken to sneaking donkeys onto other rancher’s property. Go to sleep with an empty dusty pasture, and wake up to an eeyore alarm clock as several dozen braying surprises greet the dawn.

The horse meat pet food business has pretty much been shut down, so farmers with too many donkeys can’t exercise the Alpo Option either.

Gantt, a Claiborne Parish livestock farmer who works on contract for the sheriff’s office, blames U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., for the scores of donkeys he’s taking care of. Landrieu was among sponsors of a measure that shut down the nation’s only horsemeat processing plant by forbidding the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inspect such plants.

In most other parts of the world, people are happy enough to eat horses. They probably wouldn’t mind a bit of donkey stew either. In the USA, we can’t even use them for dog food.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/30/2012 at 08:12 AM   
Filed Under: • AnimalsEconomics •  
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