Cattle health plays a big role in being able to survive bitter cold

Ranchers keep a watchful eye on their herds as temperatures nose dive.
Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 10:49 AM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Winter can be a dangerous, deadly season for livestock; especially when ranchers are hit with a stretch of sub-zero temperatures and extreme wind-chill.

“Cattle are no different than humans; they don’t necessarily enjoy ten below zero and then 30 miles per hour wind, but it’s a part of the business and a part of living in the northern plains,” said Eric Jennings, president of the South Dakota’s Cattlemen’s Association.

A cattle’s physical health plays a large part in preparing for the winter blasts we receive in South Dakota, and the fat they accumulate throughout the year gives them more layers of insulation.

“You look at those cattle, and there’s just a layer of snow on the top of their back. You would think, oh my gosh, there’s got to be enough heat coming out of them to melt that snow, but they are insulated so well with their hair cover and a little bit of some hide and some fat cover that still can be on them for some days and not melt,” said Jennings.

According to USDA, South Dakota ranks among the top 10 states in the country for cattle population.