Rain and Snow Threaten Calves - KULR8.com | Montana's News Leader | Billings, MT

Rain and Snow Threaten Calves

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BILLINGS, Mont. -

It seems like the winter that never ends. We've gotten more than 100 inches of snow, making it the snowiest season ever on record. But Sunday's rain and snow posed a threat to young livestock.

"Whenever the weather changes like that, it's always labor intensive," said Rance Gerdes, a rancher.

Ranchers say rain followed by snow can cause scours and potentially even pneumonia among calves, especially newborns. If the water isn't dried off, calves' body temperatures can decrease rapidly.

"Obviously watch the cows closer and if one looks like she's in the calving process, we try to get them closer to a calving shed, somewhere we can get them out of the rain, the snow, the wind," Gerdes said.

He said he lost a couple calves from the storm.

"The calves are bringing really good prices right now," he said. "In the fall, they're going to be worth anywhere from 11 to 1200 bucks on today's prices. That's for a five or six hundred weight calf. So when you lose one or two of them it sure cuts into the bottom line."

Feed is being used up quickly.

"Because of the cold weather a lot of the hay supply were used up or quite a bit of it was used so we need to get grass going so we can get some forage and feed going again for the calf," said Steve Lackman, MSU extension, agricultural agent.

But ranchers also say the snow is a blessing in disguise.

"When we get rain or snow that means moisture, that means grass, that means hay. Unfortunately, we kind of got to deal with some snow, maybe additional death loss because of the different elements, so we hate to cuss moisture too loud because in the end it always works out, but we just have to kind of manage it the best we can," Gerdes said.

The Yellowstone County MSU extension Service says the winter weather makes it tough for farmers too. They said farmers are behind because they can't start planting yet.

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