LORIDA — As Highlands County’s agricultural deputy, Fred Tagtmeier sometimes deals with situations where cattle get outside of fences.
But it was different Tuesday morning when dozens of them escaped after a truck carrying a cattle trailer overturned on County Road 621, about 3 miles south of U.S. 98.
“This is a first,” he said.
The trailer carrying 95 steers had overturned around 9:15 a.m. Dozens of animals starting running loose and the road was closed for hours before reopening around 1 p.m.
It didn’t take long for Lykes Bros. ranch employees to round up the animals initially.
By 10 a.m. all of the escaped cattle were together a short distance south of the crash site.
The truck driver suffered minor injuries and declined medical treatment, Tagtmeier said.
For sometime after ranch hands rounded up the steers, the response shifted to removing trapped steers from the overturned trailer.
“The difficulty is in getting them out of the trailer,” Tagtmeier said.
Dustin McGee, a deputy who also responded to the scene, said the hope was that when the cattle left the trailer, the animals would head toward the other steers. And that ended up being the case, although a couple weren’t in a hurry about it. Carcases of several cattle were pulled out of the trailer.
The cattle had been loaded onto the trailer from a site just south of where the accident occurred, said Flint Jones, ranch manager for Lykes Bros. The cattle were headed toward Calhart, Texas, where the animals would eventually be slaughtered, he said. Most of the meat from the steers will be used for steak, he said.
Jones said after the steers have some time to recoup from the accident, the animals will be shipped to Texas.