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How do you put a price on your cattle after a wildfire loss?

Ranching is an unpredictable career that is equal parts rewarding and frustrating. If your cattle die before you send them to market or off to the slaughterhouse, you could invest hundreds of dollars in their care only to receive nothing in return.

You can lose animals to lightning strikes or coyote predation. Thankfully, these issues often only affect one animal at a time, and in the case of predation may only impact your smallest, youngest or weakest animals. However, certain events that are outside of your control could have a devastating impact on your cattle ranch.

Wildfires can completely destroy a ranch

When wildfires sweep across California, they often leave a path of absolute destruction behind them. If a wildfire rages across your ranch, you might lose all of your cattle at once or at least a significant portion of your herd.

Trying to make an insurance claim when you have lost your livelihood can seem like an overwhelming process. One of the first steps will be to put an appropriate price on your claim. How do you determine what your cattle are worth?

Each of your animals may be worth hundreds of dollars

Raising cattle for beef production is a potentially lucrative career. Although meat prices do vary, farmers can usually anticipate healthy cattle to be worth several dollars a pound, if not more for the best cuts.

Whether you arrange for local processing and butchery and sell to consumers directly or you sell your cattle to a big company, each animal likely represents hundreds of dollars in potential profit. If you had a herd almost ready to take in for slaughter, the value of each individual animal might be higher than if you lost a herd of recently-purchased, younger animals.

You will need purchase records to affirm how many animals you had and their approximate age to help support the amount you claim.

Handling insurance carefully could help you save your ranch

Losing all of your animals and possibly your buildings and infrastructure at once could be a devastating financial blow for your ranch. Wildfires might push ranchers to the brink of bankruptcy. Thankfully, insurance can help, but you need to understand how to advocate for yourself.

Fighting back after a massive wildfire loss requires knowledge of your policy and of your rights as a rancher.