Cold Weather Creates Challenges For Ranchers - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Cold Weather Creates Challenges For Ranchers

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Cows, calves and cold weather are uncomfortably coexisting in North Dakota. Winter has been brutal across most of the country, and now that ranchers are into calving season, frigid temperatures are creating complications for newborns and their mothers.

This barn is just a few degrees warmer than it is outside, but this winter, that difference in temperature can mean the difference between life and death for these calves.

"In this kind of weather, a barn is a necessity, you couldn't calve outside in this kind of weather," says Linton rancher Doug Bichler.

Nothing helps take the chill off winter like a warm bottle of milk. Bichler hand feeds the triplets and twins that were born this winter to make sure they survive.

"Triplets are very rare, I'm told it only happens one in every 100,000 births and the fact that all three of them are alive and healthy is even more rare," says Bichler.

Winters this cold are also rare, even in North Dakota.

"I don't ever remember a winter this brutal. To be this cold for this long has really presented some challenges.  I don't ever remember it being this cold," says Bichler.

The cows that have already delivered do protest when they have to go outside to be fed, but Bichler provides those mothers with extra feed to deal with the cold.  Calving started in early February and despite the long, cold winter, he says there are some advantages to breeding cows to deliver this time of year.

"Everything is still frozen, the ground is hard, we have a lot less disease because we're not dealing with the mud, and the wet snow storms of April," says Bichler.

Bichler is expecting 175 calves by spring and half of them have already been born in the cold.

"I try not to complain about the weather too much. It doesn't help a whole lot. I just try to focus on my job and take it one day at a time, and I have the mindset that every day is another day closer to warm weather," says Bichler.

Calving on this farm should be finished by early April, by then odds are pretty good it will be a lot warmer than it is today.

Calving season in North Dakota starts and ends at various times depending on the producer preference and management style.

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