Following is a summary of how the March 31, 2014 blizzard likely affected cow/calf ranchers in North Dakota and South Dakota. The information was provided by Silvia Christen of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association in reply to an e-mail query from DTN's Elaine Shein:
" Of course spring blizzards are a blessing and a concern here on the prairie. A lot of important moisture comes in these spring storms. That’s moisture does a lot to keep dams full and get the grass growing in the spring to keep pastures going throughout the summer. However, calving is in full swing and some lambing is beginning and this kind of weather is tough on new born livestock.
Different than our October blizzard, the livestock are acclimated to this weather now. They have full hide and fur on to protect them from the cold weather that we’ve already been through. And most of the livestock are in pastures with much more protection or even near barns and wind breaks than they were in October. Ranchers took a lot of precaution to get extra hay and feed to the animals ahead of the storm, and the herds that are calving are likely being checked really regularly right now.
The biggest concern is the ability of a mother cow to have the calf successfully with the added stress of the weather, and then we have to make sure that calf doesn’t just hunker down and sleep. They need to get up right away, get some milk in their bellies and get the mother to bed them down well on some hay or in a barn. Most ranchers are checking at least hourly on those new calves and lambs throughout the storm. Calves that are already a few days or weeks old are going to be much more able to handle the conditions since they can rely on their mother's milk to keep them warm and fed.
Long term, this storm is bad timing and it’s a big storm but I’m confident that our ranchers have done everything they can to make sure they’ve protected their livestock and I think we’re probably going to get through this storm without too many hiccups."
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