By Bailey McKay
In a warranted search of a Nebraska feedlot, investigators found more than 200 deceased cattle, including newborn calves and mature cows, one dead horse with a halter on, and more than 200 more cattle in poor to questionable health. The search was conducted by the Nebraska Brand Committee (NBC), Filmore County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO), and the Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) on April 3-4 at 1817 Road C, Exeter, Nebraska. According the Filmore County property database, the feedlot is owned by Roger A. and Sara J. Ogren.
Aaron Ogren, 30, was arrested on 29 charges by the FCSO on April 9. Charges against Ogren include: one count of theft by unlawful taking; two counts of prohibited sale of livestock; and 26 counts of cruelty to animals. Of the cruelty counts, three were due to calves that died from being born into poor conditions, according to a veterinarian’s autopsy; one concerned the horse that was apparently stuck in the mud and left to die; and the remaining 22 were in regard to the malnourished and extremely thin cattle still living in the feedlot.
The warrant was served a week after NBC Criminal Investigator, Christian Fell, visited the feedlot to inquire about the wellbeing of cattle belonging to Colorado owners. Said owners had requested the return of their cattle but were informed that many had died due to harsh weather conditions over the winter, according to Investigator Fell. Fell mentioned seeing a pile of dead calves and another pile of deceased animals awaiting burial, in all stages of death, while also being told of many who had already been buried. Live cattle of all ages were found to be in less than optimal conditions, standing in knee-deep mud and fecal waste, and standing on manure mounds to keep somewhat dry.
In his report Fell said, “Cattle calving in those conditions can create serious illness and even death to the calves because the calves are unable to get any good footing to stand up, are fighting bacteria from the manure created because the cow teats are in the manure/mud most of the time, and the calves never have a chance to dry off and warm up.”
The veterinarian who assessed the 263 seized cattle, not including young calves, noted that 172 where of questionable condition, and of those, 22 appeared so emaciated that their bones were visible and sharp to the touch. The cattle belonging to Colorado owners have since been moved to another feedlot near Geneva, Nebraska and are under the watch and care of a veterinarian.
Reports show that the feedlot is managed by Ogren, Eva Turbiville, and Ogren Brothers Trucking. Roger and Sara have three sons, Aaron, Ryan, and Justin. Roger passed in May 2018. After the story broke on Nebraska Channel 8 Eyewitness News KLKN, Ryan’s attorney called stating that R. Ogren is not involved in the livestock operation.
Records also indicate that this is not the first illegal dispute the feedlot has had. In 2018, an Idaho woman filed a lawsuit against the owners for $160,000 in damages for malnourished and missing cattle who were housed at the feedlot from February 2017 – July 2018. Additionally, a rancher from South Dakota filed lawsuit stating that his cattle were also malnourished and finding that he was short 76 calves and seven cows.
Mike Pavel, the South Dakota rancher, said he entered a contract with Ogren to house and care for 300 head year-round in December 2017. Pavel visited the feedlot beforehand to ensure everything was in order and that the operation appeared adequate to accommodate his cattle. Pavel said there was food and water, and everything seemed fine on his visit. However, upon his return visit in May 2018 he found cattle missing, malnourished, and void of accessible water. From there he started making calls to remove his cattle. Pavel was awarded $300,000 in damages.
Ogren is currently being held in the Filmore County Jail and is scheduled to appear in court on May 1 with the investigation ongoing.BACK