Calving in back-to-back blizzards

A cattle producer in north central South Dakota says back-to-back spring blizzards make calving season tough.

Troy Hadrick tells Brownfield the snow doesn’t stop. There was already significant snowpack before last week’s blizzard brought 20 inches of snow and this week’s blizzard is expected to bring more than two feet of fresh snow and strong winds. This makes it difficult to keep cattle warm and dry and get calves a good start.

“We’ve had to put a lot of calves through the barn and the hot box just to get them dried off and warmed up, getting vigor in them. We’ve been making sure to get colostrom into calves, too.”

Hadrick has been adding new haybale wind breaks for the blizzard, providing fresh bedding in the lot and digging out a path to feed for the cattle, but that may not be enough.

“There’s no good answers to what we can do. We only have so much barn space and we’re doing the best we can, hoping the cattle can take care of themselves to some degree.”

Hadrick says it’s hard to know how much stress cattle can endure without having long-term issues.

“It feels like some of these calves aren’t thriving as much as you’d expect as they’re born. They’re lathargic. As these calves grow up, what will we see?”

Hadrick says 2023 reminds him of 1996-97, one of the worst winters on record in South Dakota, when cattle didn’t perform as well after hitting maturity.

South Dakota’s spring blizzard is expected to continue through Wednesday.

Photo credit: Troy Hadrick

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