Early Midwest blizzard leaves tens of thousands of cattle dead
The early blizzard that struck the Midwest last Friday has left South Dakota’s countryside littered with the gruesome site of the tens of thousands of dead cattle, killed by the snowy conditions.
The South Dakota Stock Growers Association estimated that 15 to 20 percent of all cattle were killed in the affected parts of the state. “They’re in the fence line, laying alongside the roads,” Martha Wierzbicki, emergency management director for Butte County, S.D., told the state’s Rapid City Journal. “It’s really sickening.”
The Journal talked to cattle farmers, who said that due to the blizzard coming unusually early in the season, most cattle had not grown their winter coats yet that which would have helped shield them from freezing conditions. Ranchers said they usually move their livestock to pastures that have more trees and cover for the winter months. Most of the ranchers — and their cattle — were caught off guard by the storm while the animals were still in their summer pastures.
In the wake of the devastating losses, the ongoing government shutdown will limit federal assistance in the recovery.