South Dakota blizzards pinch bottom line for cattle producers

Numerous blizzards in South Dakota have significantly increased the cost of production for livestock producers.  

Stephanie Jung says the north central region has received more than 100 inches of snow and feed costs have increased to provide additional nutrition. “We fed a higher energy ration than we would normally do for longer than we would normally do just due to the significant cold to keep condition on these cattle.  These cows saw sub-zero weather for a better part of a month.”

Jung has a seed stock operation and raises goats near Aberdeen and she tells Brownfield she’s constantly pushing snow to clear pens. “I filled up the day before and the day after.  We know that’s not cheap.  The extra hours on the machinery and the fuel costs are going to be significant.  The water tanks and things like that have to have heaters on them. Our energy and electric bill is significantly more.”

She says once the snow melts there will be significant repairs for the summer range fences, which adds additional costs.

Danielle LeDoux says labor and health costs have ramped up on her ranch near Harold. “They’re putting in a lot more hours than they last few winters because it’s taken a lot more time to feed or push snow or do extra jobs they haven’t had to do over the last few years.  Also, I think, the wear and tear on the guys.  If they had a small injury it’s going to be a lot worse before this winters over.”

She says they’ve increased feed ration this winter, too.  But they haven’t had to make any significant management decisions due to the timing of breeding season.

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