Storm ravages county livestock
Hundreds, if not thousands of cattle suspected lost
Published: Thursday, October 10th, 2013
Although the deepest snow readings from last weekend’s blizzard were recorded in the western part of Custer County, it could very well be the eastern part of the county that suffered the most devastation.
Eastern county producers were ravaged by the storm, with hundreds—perhaps thousands—of cattle killed by the storm. As the storm broke and the sun came out Saturday and Sunday, producers began the grim task of inspecting their pastures to see how many animals they had lost.
“Everybody lost cattle,”âï¿½ï¿½said rancher and Custer County Commissioner Travis Bies. “I think this storm cost a lot of people. We just don’t have storms like this this time of year. In the spring you’re prepared for a storm like this. The first of October, you don’t have storms like this.”
Bies said although Fairburn received only about eight inches of snow, all of the draws in the area were blown full of snow because of the wind. What spelled doom for the cattle, he said, was the constant rain before it turned to snow, which soaked the cows. After it turned to snow and the wind picked up, the cows began to suffer from hypothermia, more than likely, with many walking into deep snow banks and getting stuck, while others piled up into fence corners where they were eventually buried by the snow.
“There are piles of dead cows and calves. some 20 and 30 deep,” said Betty Dikoff, also of rural eastern Custer County. “They just couldn’t take the cold wind when they got so drenched.”
Dikoff said she was unsure how many cows she and her husband, Roger, lost in the storm, but said with the price of cows now at $1,500 to $2,000 the loss would be significant.
“It’s not going to be pretty,” she said. “We haven’t gotten to all of them yet.” Dikoff said they had recovered 20 dead cows so far.
Bies said his losses could reach six figures from the storm, but said losing any cattle is too much for any producer. Both Bies and Dikoff said cattle from various ranches got intermingled as fences fell and cows literally ran for their life, seeking shelter.
“It’s going to take a while to get stuff sorted,”âï¿½ï¿½Bies said.
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