Ranchers face winter weather challenges during calving season - KOTA Territory News

Ranchers face winter weather challenges during calving season

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While most ranchers are rebuilding their herds after October's blizzard, current weather conditions are not making that process easy.  

Monty Williams, a rancher in Box Elder lost about 200 head of cattle in October's blizzard. "It's pretty valuable to us after October's disaster we've had in the past, we're kind of counting on every calf right now," said Williams.

Williams says he began his calving later than usual this year and he and his cattle have been bearing the brunt of the bitter cold and wind. "It's really been hard on us but we'll deal with it. As long as we can keep them out of the wind, get a calf up and going, he can take quite a little weather," said Williams.

And calves acclimating to the harsh weather conditions is just half the battle. "With this type of weather it sure takes a lot more feed, more work just to make sure you don't have a major loss," said Williams.

Williams says avoiding a major loss means providing more hay for feed and bedding, making sure calves have adequate shelter, including wind breakers and more time spent checking on the calves. 

Williams says the worst of this calving season will soon be behind him and he is hopeful for the future of his herd. "The new calves on the ground kind of put new optimism back into you after last year's disaster," said Williams. 

According to Warren Rusche, of South Dakota State University, cows can usually adapt to and survive a range of weather conditions.  But sub zero temperatures can cause stress to cows and their calves

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