Ranchers struggle through calving season - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Ranchers struggle through calving season

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LAVINA, Mont. -

"It's the worst calving season I can remember in all my life," Rancher John Jansen said.
It's April, but it looks more like February.
This is what ranchers across Montana have been facing all winter.
"In February, there were about 8 days we were 30 below," Jansen said.

Jansen is the co-owner of Jansen Cattle LLC in Lavina.
He said the ranch lost more calves this year than in past years.
"If you're not on it right away, a lot of them died on you."
To try to keep the calves alive, Jansen said he had to take risks.
"We've had situations where we've had too many and we've had heat lamps on them which isn't exactly preferable because you don't want to burn the barn down either."
To combat the cold, Jansen said he constantly made sure to lay down fresh straw, so the calves weren't walking directly on the cold ground.
Surprisingly though, he said the winter weather wasn't the only factor contributing to the difficult calving season.
"If you want to go through what we've been dealing with, you have to go back not just through the winter, you have to go clear back to June," Jansen said.
The hot, dry summer damaged the pastures, leaving ranchers in a bad spot heading into calving season.
"A lot of times your spring pasture will grow back and you can graze it again," Jansen said. "We didn't get that. We came in awful light on our calves, we didn't make our contract. The buyer still took them thankfully but there's a lot of people that didn't make their weights."
Plus, the wildfires that plagued Montana this past summer took a toll as well.
"The whole Northern part of the state was on fire which drove the hay prices up," Jansen said. "And when you're feeding for 6 months you're burning through a hay pile pretty quick."
despite the tough winter, Jansen said he's hopeful for the summers' success.
"I always try to think on the bright side," Jansen said. 

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