Dakin Dairy Farms of Myakka City suffered huge losses from Hurricane Ian, including the death of approximately 200 cows.
Courtney Dakin, a tour manager at Dakin Dairy Farms said many of the lost livestock were calves and that the farm still is counting total losses. She said there are currently about 5,000 cows on the property, and about 3,000 of those have no water because of power outages. Many cows are sick with pneumonia due to their prolonged exposure to the weather conditions during the storm.
The farm received severe damage to its facilities including its cattle barns and tour barn.
Despite the use of a bulldozer to create sediment barriers around the property prior to the hurricane, Dakin said the barriers had little effect in preventing the waters, which she said came from the overflowing Myakka and Peace rivers.
Owner Jerry Dakin, a cousin of Courtney Dakin, called the storm a disaster unlike anything he had witnessed in his life.
"It's just the stress of the animals that hurts more than anything," he said.
Jerry Dakin said with current inflation levels, he was not sure whether rebuilding is an option.
Courtney Dakin said many of the farm's animals did survive the storm, including all the farm's sheep, goats, a tour cow named Norman and three chicks.
The farm currently is receiving help with its cleanup operations from friends, family and community members.
"This is an amazing community that we have out here," she said. "We've already seen so much support."
Sarasota's Donna Stevens, a friend of Jerry Dakin, was helping with cleanup at the farm, moving sections of the metal barn roofs.
"Jerry is an incredible person," Stevens said. "He does so much for the community. If we can give back, I'm here. This is our food source. We have to protect it, and we have to know that somebody good is in charge of it."