Blizzard Takes Toll On Cattle

Inside Dakota Ag

Western South Dakota cattlemen have lost 10-20% of their livestock.

Published on: October 8, 2013

The loss of thousands of cattle in the blizzard that covered western South Dakota last week with as much as 4 feet of snow is a tough deal.

I’ve read that some ranchers in the hardest hit area of the Black Hills lost half their animals.

Out on the Plains, losses are said to be running 10-20%.

The cows and calves that survived the storm aren’t completely out of the woods, either. The risk that they’ll come down with respiratory infections in the next two weeks due to stress they were under is high, according to Russ Daly, South Dakota State University Extension veterinarian. See for more information.

I am sorry that ranch families have been dealt such a blow and I wish them the best of luck as they as take care of the animals that survived.

The situation is a reminder that for all the technology and modern management that exists, farmers and ranchers are not completely in control of what happens. The weather has a huge impact on their business success and their lives. That’s something that policy makers should remember when they consider the farm bill and crop and livestock insurance programs.

There’s a lesson here for people who don’t farm, too. I sometimes tell my kids that they should approach life like farmers and ranchers -- do all that you can, do it the best you can, but then put it in God’s hands.