CHARLESTON, W.Va. — No clear results yet for the State of West Virginia’s $33,000 investment in four Oklahoma cows for breeding purposes.
Placed in proximity of a bull over the summer, two of the cows became pregnant. The two others did not.
“It just kind of shows why it’s a little risky for the state to get into this,” said state Delegate Amy Summers, who had been a critic of the cow purchase all along.
The cows were purchased in 2016 under the administration of former Agriculture Secretary Walt Helmick.
The Helmick administration said the cows possessed superior genetics and would strengthen herds in West Virginia.
Critics called the purchase a waste, and legislators questioned whether the cows truly would diversify the state herd.
The purchase became an offbeat issue heading into the election between Helmick, a Democrat, and Kent Leonhardt, the Republican who won.
Now everyone is rooting for the cows. But two are having some trouble.
“They’re breeding cows and they’re not yet breeding so that’s obviously an issue,” said Crescent Gallagher, spokesman for the state Agriculture Department.
“At this time we can’t determine if they’re not going to be able to breed at all. We just know as of yet they’re not breeding.”
Gallagher said that when it became clear the cows weren’t yet breeding they were examined by a local veterinarian. The results were inconclusive.
“We had the cows with a bull all summer, so that’s a little unusual,” Gallagher said. “So we had a vet look at them to see why two haven’t calved yet. They were not really able to figure out why that is.”
So the cows have been medicated to go back into heat with the hope of trying again with better results.
If that doesn’t work, Gallagher said, the official state veterinarian will check them out.
And if that examination is inconclusive, it is distressing news, indeed, from the cow viewpoint.
“If he determines they’re not able to calve, these cows would just become part of the herd and eventually sold for beef,” Gallagher said.
Summers, a Republican who has a cattle farm in Taylor County, said such a situation isn’t unusual from a cattle-breeding perspective.
“I don’t think it’s anything to be a red flag about. They’ll keep trying to breed them. Maybe they’ll catch this time,” Summers said.
But she said it’s evidence that the investment was a gamble from the start.
“The only story is they made a poor investment,” she said. “It just kind of shows this is what you get into when you get into cows.”