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Sempronius buffalo farmer Peter Head has lost 55 animals to a mysterious illness since October, but autopsies have shown no clear cause of death.

"We're going nuts down here trying to figure out what's going on," he said. "This is going to put me out of business. That's half my frickin' herd."

Head and his wife Deborah have run PDH Buffalo Farm on Route 41A for nine years. This year, 17 of his 23 calves died and he has stopped selling meat as a precaution.

"I don't want to be selling buffalo meat when I don't know what's going on here," he said.

Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine conducted necropsies on several of the carcasses but found only dehydration, Head said.

Ron Podolak of the Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District said there is no indication that disease is spreading to neighboring farms.

"In my career, I don't remember anything quite like this," Podolak said. "There's die-offs, but usually they can determine what it is right away and treat them. ... I just wish there was something more we could do to help Pete. This is a catastrophic loss for him."

The SWCD is conducting water samples from springs on the farm, but the results have not yet come back, Head said.

For more details, see Friday's edition of The Citizen.

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