Skip to comments.Early snow kills thousands of cattle in SD
Posted on 10/07/2013 6:29:58 PM PDT by Olog-hai
A record-breaking storm that dumped 4 feet of snow in parts of western South Dakota left ranchers dealing with heavy losses, in some cases perhaps up to half their herds, as they assess how many of their cattle died during the unseasonably early blizzard.
Meanwhile, utility companies were working to restore power to tens of thousands of people still without electricity Monday after the weekend storm that was part of a powerful weather system that also buried parts of Wyoming and Colorado with snow and produced destructive tornadoes in Nebraska and Iowa. At least four deaths were attributed to the weather, including a South Dakota man who collapsed while cleaning snow off his roof.
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Looking for silver lining...
I’ll get the BBQ sauce if someone has the charcoal and beer.
Get that global warming off my lawn.
This was a bit unfortunate.
While Climate Change Channel was heartbroken over the fail of Karen, they were able to switch panic mode to Winter Storm Atlas.
Awful. Meanwhile, here in Vermont, so far it’s been warmer than usual. We have had several frost warnings, but as yet not a single solid freeze, which is very unusual in our part of the state.
The Farmer’s Almanac and the woolly bear caterpillars are both forecasting a colder winter than usual. Well, I hope we don’t get anything like this storm in South Dakota. Cows are still out here. They don’t usually leave the pastures until after the first snowfall.
From my trips through W SD, they could use more “loafing” sheds.
Just out of curiosity, what do they do with the cattle during the usual winter snow and cold?
If they’re like most places with four seasons they bring the cattle into the lower or closest pasture to the barn, shelter them there and feed them hay over the winter, as opposed to grazing in upper pasture and overnighting there in warmer weather.
Ahh, I’m just the fourth player but, I’m bettin as a fourth player in this hand Paladin2 has the Royal Flush.
We live just 10 miles west of Rapid City, SD. It looks like Armageddon here. We finally got electric power about three hours ago..............but so many do not have power yet. We have 12 foot drifts around our house. Thankfully, we have a snowplow and generator. This is such a heavy, wet snow. On our forty acres, we counted about 700 trees (ponderosa pine) down. Anyone need firewood? I’m a “prepper”, so we have plenty of food and water stored, but so many don’t. We were finally able to make it to town late this afternoon for milk, bread, produce, etc., but the shelfs were nearly bare. The stores are hoping to get supply trucks in sometime tomorrow. We were able to help some of our neighbors with essential groceries.
This was a “wake up” call for every one to “prep”.
I miss Rapid City. Was stationed for 3 years at Ellsworth.
My favorite place in the world was Randy’s Pizza Barrel.
Prayers up for the ranchers.
Joe Bastardi says the wet east coast US and the massive snow cover right now in Siberia, means you will get clobbered this winter. Hoping for 10 feet of snow in DC myself.
BTW, if the farmer’s almanac can predict a cold winter, I think the animals know it’s coming.
Cattle caught out on open range during a blizzard can and do die en masse. I recall seeing footage of hay being airlifted by helicopter to stranded herds in the past. Even a thunderstorm with large hail can kill quite a few. They’re hardy, tough animals but they’re not invincible. They can be rather lacking in instinct.
Cattle can take wet, they can take wind, but they can’t typically handle both at once.
So you get them some windbreaks. Typical cattle operators will bring cattle down out of the higher or more remote pastures to where they have improvements to over-winter the cattle. Above all, they need forage - lots of fiber in the forage, too, because that’s how cattle survive cold weather. Their digestion process of breaking down fiber in their food creates heat.
The trouble was, this storm was wet, it was moderately cold, and the winds were up over 60MPH. Cattle that are wet, out in the open and have their forage snowed over are going to be dead in a couple of days. They simply must have a way to get out of the wind if they’re to survive a storm like this - and then they must have some hay supplied to them in the second day, to keep them alive as the snow melts.
These cattlemen are suffering from a real failure in prediction by NOAA and their local WX forecasters. Some of them were in no way ready to bring in their herds, but some might have been able to get some hay pre-positioned to mitigate the losses.
Now, here’s a little dark humor in this situation:
It was only last Wednesday when here in Wyoming, as we were watching the Rapid City TV stations, the RC forecasters were talking about what their weather models were churning out. The RC/SD TV forecasters (not terribly excitable people, on the whole - excitable people don’t last long in the Dakotas’ winters) said that the models were predicting over 4 feet of this filthy, heavy wet cement posing as snow.
The Rapid City weather folks said that they didn’t believe the models. They just hadn’t seen the set-up in the weather patterns for 4 feet of snow, which would have been equivalent to over 4” of rainfall. That doesn’t happen over wide areas in this country.
We got about 9 to 14” of this crap over here just east of the Big Horn Mtns in Wyoming. It fairly hit the model forecasts - and here, the models have been mis-overestimating snowfall for the last five years. We easily got 1.5” of moisture out of this storm.
As the storm progressed eastwards, the snowfall kept going, and going and going. They got upwards of four feet. The models came out about right - except for the timing, which was a bit later than predicted.
Here in Wyoming, there are people hauling away trees all over the place due to how many trees got snapped in half or seriously pruned by the snowfall.
I miss Randy’s Pizza Barrel. It was the best. It is now the Golden Phoenix Chinese restaurant. It’s good, too.
You wouldn’t believe how Rapid has grown and changed over the past few years.
Go back and read up on the winter of 1886 to 1887 in Wyoming, Montana and eastern MT.
It was what inspired Charley Russell to write the postcard “Waiting for a Chinook” that launched his career.
Here in Wyoming, there have been winters that killed 10’s of thousands of sheep. Much of Johnson County smelled for months of rotting flesh come spring after one of these winters.
So the cattle are still alive? Go buy em then.
Cattle are not migratory animals.
If cattle could predict every disaster, then not a single one would be killed by other catastrophic phenomena, e.g. volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes et al.
Lots of rain followed by four feet of snow did break records. But yes, the latter is seasonable, even if the volume is historic.
That winter was tough all over, my grandfather told of removing the wheels from wagons and mounting runners on them so they could take them down the creek to get to town for supplies, impassable otherwise. In central North Carolina. Frozen bodies of water during winter is not unusual, but it’s a good way to drown, it seldom gets thick enough to support the weight of a man, let alone horse and wagon.
There is no silver lining. My aunt (by marriage) family was hit really hard, losing almost a half a million dollars in cattle (over 200 head). This is a real hit for many ranchers who live on thin margins.
You see any pictures of the dead cattle? They aren’t migratory? Ever hear of a cattle drive cowboy? You might want to read some history about cattlemen.
Were not talking about physics reading hear.
They go to the fence lines, get stuck and the snow drifts over them. They can survive flooding, but the blizzards can be bad. Regular snowfall is survivable, it is the wind with the blizzards that is rough.
If it is light snow, you make sure their noses are clear so they don’t suffocate, also hay bale walls provide some protection. My family would move all the cattle to the ‘yard’ (160 acres) and make sure they didn’t suffocate. Cattle can stand cold alright but blowing snow can be a real problem.
Was there no weather-person predicting LOTS and LOTS of rain? Those clouds off in the distance, a-comin' this way HAD to mean something. Hard to believe that the modern gadgets to forecast the weather were SO FAR wrong.
Oh well, their insurance will pay up. And, the price of meat will rise. "Poor" farmers and ranchers AREN'T going to lose.
Stay safe. My mother is far enough west she didn’t get snow but the wind blew some trees down in town including one right outside her house - she was lucky it didn’t blow into her roof.
I think the rural folk are better prepped than those in Rapid though. Everyone where my mom lives is a prepper - just part of living in rural SD.
The ranchers didn’t KNOW that the cattle wouldn’t survive “a couple of days”? Where were they?
Amen to that.
Usually South Dakota gets flurries and light snow in October, not this kind of dumping with the winds - that is February weather.
There was NOTHING that the sheep ranchers could do to save their flocks/herds?
You would think that, knowing the weather forecast in advance, there would be something that could be done. Are there no shelters, no valleys, no place for the sheep? What a shame...for the sheep to die that way.
This came fast and most ranchers didn’t have time to move all their head. You may want to try living on a ranch.
Wow you don’t have a clue. Most ranchers live on thin margins and the insurance doesn’t cover it. No amount of price increase in meat is going to save some of these ranches or cover the losses.
If they were migratory they wouldn’t need to be driven, now would they?
Oh wow! Those are drifts we use to have here in Pa over wild winters....
This sounds pretty bad for the folks there....and to think if it took down 700 pine trees it’s gotta be really heavy!
Lord God..Be with these people as they struggle to get things up and running. And keep those in the back hills etc. safe until someone gets to them.
In Jesus name...Amen...
Just because you haven’t seen a pic doesn’t mean it is BS. I know a lot of ranchers who lost cattle because of this storm.
It's my guess that there are just too many sheep/cattle to move quickly. And, there are no shelters, valleys or protection for the animals. There is obviously no emergency plan or place for these kinds of catastrophes. The rancher just gets the insurance to pay up...and then has to hire help to come in and bury/burn the carcasses. I guess.
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