Weekend Storm Causes Massive Cattle Losses - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Weekend Storm Causes Massive Cattle Losses

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The blizzard that blew through the northern plains over the weekend stranded entire herds of cattle in pastures, killing thousands of cows and calves in the Dakotas.

The livestock devastation is worst in South Dakota, where up to 30 inches of snow fell, and millions of dollars in economic losses could make the winter storm the worst in the state's history.

On Tuesday, some calves and cows could be seem grazing around snow drifts.  They were still out to pasture when the unexpected strength of massive winter storm took livestock producers, like Dan Christman by surprise.

"In October these cattle can take pretty good storms, that's why all the cattle were out grazing yet, so we weren't concerned about them," says Christman.

Dan Christman became concerned after two feet heavy wet snow had fallen and the storm was still raging.  His herd broke through a fence line and some of the cows and calves ended up in a stock pond.  His sons rescued some of the cattle by using snow mobiles to pull the animals out of the water.

 "A couple that were trapped in there, we hooked on tow ropes and we were able to pull those out no problem and they were able to stand-up after a couple hours," according to Collin Christman.

All the cattle couldn't be saved.  At least fifty head were lost and the Christmans are now piling up dead animals.  Their neighbors are busy with the same gruesome task. "Other ranchers they only found half their cattle so far, so they don't know what kind of losses there could be."

Ranchers also don't know if they will receive any kind of disaster assistance to cover some of their cattle losses because the government shutdown has forced FSA offices to close.

"We don't have a farm bill, we don't know if there is a disaster payment, so don't even know if these producers should fill out any forms," said Julie Kramlich, Adams County extension agent. 

Kramlich is advising producers to take pictures and document losses so when government offices reopen they can begin to make disaster claims.

The cattle the Christman's lost are located in extreme northern South Dakota, just a few miles from the North Dakota border.  As the snow continues to melt, they'll search areas of their ranch that are currently not accessible because of snow and mud and hope they don't find many more storm victims.

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