Tens of thousands of cattle lie dead across South Dakota on Monday following a blizzard that could become one of the most costly in the history of the state’s agriculture industry.

As state officials spent the day calculating the multi-million dollar impact to the regional economy from Friday's storm, ranchers began digging up hundreds of cattle that are still buried beneath feet of snow.

"This is absolutely, totally devastating," said Steve Schell, a 52-year-old rancher from Caputa. "This is horrendous. I mean the death loss of these cows in this country is unbelievable."

Schell said he estimated he had lost half of his herd, but it could be far more. He was still struggling to find snow-buried cattle and those that had been pushed miles by winds that gusted at 70 miles per hour on Friday night.

Martha Wierzbicki, emergency management director for Butte County, said the trail of carcasses was a gruesome sight across the region.

“They’re in the fence line, laying alongside the roads,” she said. “It’s really sickening.”

Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, said most ranchers she had spoken to were reporting that 20 to 50 percent of their herds had been killed.

"I have never heard of anything like it," she said. "And none of the ranchers I have talked to can remember anything like it."

While South Dakota ranchers are no strangers to blizzards, what made Friday's storm so damaging was how early it arrived in the season.

Christen said cattle hadn't yet grown their winter coats to insulate them from freezing wind and snow.

In addition, Christen said, during the cold months, ranchers tend to move their cattle to pastures that have more trees and gullies to protect them from storms. Because Friday's storm arrived so early in the year, most ranchers were still grazing their herds on summer pasture, which tend to be more exposed and located farther away from ranch homes.

Ultimately, Christen said, she believed that more than 5 percent of the roughly 1.5 million cattle in Western South Dakota had been killed.

"It's much higher than that," she said. "But I'm not sure where that number is going to land."

Jodie Anderson, executive director of the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association, said the pain for ranchers is now compounded by dysfunction within the federal government.

While the government has programs to help ranchers who suffer losses from catastrophic weather events, those programs are in limbo because Congress has failed to pass a farm bill. The legislation is normally passed every five years and controls subsidy and insurance programs for the agriculture industry.

Making things worse, because the government is currently in a partial shutdown, ranchers are unable to ask federal officials questions about how they might be reimbursed in the future.

"A lot of the government agencies that we would normally be turning to for those answers are furloughed,” she said. “So there's this sort of timing issue that's enhancing the frustration out there in cattle country."

The shutdown was caused after House Republicans, including U.S. Rep Kristi Noem, R-S.D., refused to pass a resolution to fund the government unless Democrats weakened or delayed parts of President Obama's 2010 health care overhaul.

On Monday, Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., pointed to South Dakota's battered ranchers as another example of why House Republicans needed to continue funding the government without preconditions.

"Like the snow storm, the government shutdown is causing major disruptions in people’s lives and every day business," he said in a statement.

Whether they are eventually reimbursed for their losses or not, however, ranchers are likely to feel the pain for years.

David Uhrig, 31, a rancher in Folsom, said he estimated about 25 percent of his herd had been killed, which meant far fewer calves this spring.

“We are looking at years of rebuilding to get back to what we lost,” he said.

In the short term, however, Uhrig had far more pressing concerns.

Like most ranchers, he spent most of Monday searching his land for stray cattle or sorting out cattle that had drifted into neighboring herds.

“It’s not uncommon at this point to find cattle that are five miles from where they should be,” he said. “Which doesn't seem like a lot, but to drift five miles in a storm — that’s a lot.”

Dustin Oedekoven, South Dakota’s state veterinarian, said that the next immediate challenge for ranchers would be disposal of carcasses.

“That can be a significant source of disease spread, so we want to make sure those carcasses are burned, buried or rendered as quickly as possible,” he said.

Oedekoven said disposal was primarily be the responsibility of ranchers themselves. However, the state was also helping ranchers get in touch with haulers that would take carcasses away for rendering.

He added that, while the federal government was in poor shape to offer assistance because of the shutdown and a lack of a farm bill, ranchers should thoroughly document all cattle deaths.

He said that could include taking photos, collecting cattle tags, or bringing in a veterinarian or farm service provider as an eye witness of deaths.

“If you don’t keep good records about your losses you won’t be available for indemnity funds should they become available,” he said.

Milo Dailey contributed to this report from Belle Fourche.

(68) comments

just stop it

To both of you..You both talk about responsibility, saying the ranchers should have insurance, I'm sure some do, but yet you both think the federal government should provide health care for those who should be "responsible" enough to buy it. Once again I say sweep your own back step first.

just stop it

Dekain, or what ever fantasy name you give yourself.. you seem to have a lot of time to post your snotty, and condescending comments on here. Makes some wonder if your even employed, all that aside, when an area is declared a disaster area, most any one who fills out an application for federal aid generally receives aid if its available. See, that's why we pay taxes, so the federal government has money for such things. ( and if you think I'm over simplifying things, your right, because I feel if I made things to completed you would not be able to understand) But, sir.. in western SD, if the ranchers do well, then so does main street. I think I made that simple enough for you, now you can go back to playing what ever video game you were playing in your moms basement and know you learned something today.


Addendum: Many of the farmers / ranchers didn't purchase insurance to cover their losses, and now are relying on the federal government to replenish their cows.

Roger Cornelius

Let's talk about responsibility, a favorite subject of Republicans when talking entitlement programs for the poor.

We live in western South Dakota where weather patterns are notoriously unpredictable, we could have a blizzard on Labor Day or Mother's Day and the ag community knows it.

Where is their responsibility when it comes to protecting their investment through insurance, or do they just assume that Kristi Noem will come charging in on a white horse and hand out money for their recklessness?


The government shutdown and the debt ceiling debacle illustrated the federal government is broke.

I'm curious as to where you think the money is supposed to come from to replenish cows?

Roger Cornelius

If you support the farm bill and think the government should pay ranchers for their cattle losses, you are doing nothing more than promoting socialism of the agricultural industry and adding billions to the debt and deficit.

Kristi Noem's children will be paying this debt for decades.

just stop it

Funny...people who have nothing to do with ranching posting on how these good people should have taken care of their livestock..and then have the gall inject their own political stabs. The thing I find funny, a week a few days after the storm I have yet to hear any of the ranchers I know wonder when the federal government was going to bail them out, seems to me the only people even mentioning it are the very same people I see on here all the time bashing Republicans. My suggestion to those of you worried about the ranchers receiving aid, sweep your own back step first, if it were your lively-hood on line you people would be the first in line to get your bailout.


You're funny too.

The Journal ran a piece which a rancher noted a vast majority of ranchers don't have insurance covering storm-related damage and "We're an independent, pretty self-sufficient bunch, but we need help."

The Journal ran a piece yesterday, “Noem meets with Meade County ranchers." She asked ranchers if the current $100,000 cap on individual catastrophic losses in the farm bill would be enough to cover what they lost in the blizzard on Oct. 4.

There are people, besides farmers / ranchers who sustained property damage.

As for sweeping the back step, there are other private sector businesses struggling and others who have gone, but it appears, it depends on who's livelihood receives the borrowed funds and collected taxes.

Roger Cornelius

Only in America is it acceptable for the government to pay for dead cows and not health insurance for the sick and dying human beings.


You hit the nail square on the head Roger

Kenny Jay

My heart goes out to those who have suffered losses as a result of this terrible storm. I grew up on a farm in SW Minnesota and can relate. However, my point has to do with the political aspect of it. For a little perspective, I recommend a book called "The Time it Never Rained," by Elmer Kelton. It is considered the best Western novel ever written. When the protagonist, Charlie Flagg is faced with what would turn out to be a 7 year drought (the novel is based on truth about a drought that occurred in West Texas in the 1950's), he not only must endure the struggle of raising livestock (he goes from raising cattle to raising sheep and finally, only goats), he is surrounded by other ranchers who are perfectly willing to accept government handouts, when he himself understands the immorality of doing so, and in the end, no matter the obstacles he faces, he never gives in. A quote from the book: "And many a boy would become a man before the land was green again."

The Crux of the Buscuit

Republicans control South Dakota. "Pull yourselves up by your bootstraps." is the first commandment according to Saint Ronald Reagan of Hollywood. Don't ask for any federal money until you start paying federal taxes in an amount at least equal to what you leechers suck out of the rest of us. You cry about taxes, don't cry about not being bailed out by those very same taxes OTHER PEOPLE have paid in. You poor fools, always take, take, take with no thought of giving. Typical republicans, always taking more than they give. Golly, maybe if you just pray harder miracles will happen.....


Ironwill, it appears you need to go back to school to revisit Government 101, because what you posted is completely inaccurate. To whit: "Its Obama and Reid that refuse any negotiated settlement and insist they get 100% of what they want." Well, hardly. Firstly, Obama and Reid accepted the Republican budget proposal and PASSED it in the Senate 6 months ago. It was the Republicans in the House that refused to assign members to a conference committee to resolve the outstanding differences, despite being asked to by the Senate again and again. Of course, when you're taking your orders from the Koch brothers and Jim DeMint -- instead of the American people -- it's no wonder.

This refusal to negotiate by the House republicans led directly to the shutdown, which was by design. It has come out in the news in recent days that this shutdown and the threat of breaching the debt ceiling was all part of a plot hatched by the Kochs, Heritage, FreedomWorks, and a cabal of rightwing groups to attempt to force the President to repeal his signature achievement, a law passed by the Congress -- both houses, remind you -- signed by the President, reviewed by the Supreme Court, and then relitigated in the 2012 elections. Apparently, Republicans can't accept the outcome of elections and Supreme Court rulings.

But moving on: "He reduced our Border Patrols along the Mexico border to allow illegals in and he increased National Park Patrols to secure our Parks and Memorials from use by citizens." False. Border patrols have not been affected by the shutdown, as national security is deemed essential duty. From what you say, I'm guessing you're confusing the DC immigration protest on the mall with border patrols, however innacurate. The mall is in DC and is controlled and funded by the city of Washington DC, not the Federal government; therefor, it would not have been shuttered under the shutdown, unlike the national parks, which are part of the Federal government, and were closed because they are not deemed essential expenditures. That some WWII veterans were temporarily blocked from a memorial is unfortunate, but an acceptable inconvenience given the Republican intransigence and refusal to confer with the Senate on budget negotiations. It goes without saying that if the Republicans in the House had accepted their responsibilities as members of Congress, the shutdown and all of the collateral damage caused thereby would have been prevented.

Moving on: "The House is currently controlled by Republicans who are doing what their constituents favor." False. Even prior to the shutdown, 64% of Americans -- you know, "constituents" -- didn't want the government shutdown to prevent implementation of Obamacare. And now that the government has been shutdown by the Republicans, 70% say is it not acceptable, and the Republican party is blamed by a margin of 3 to 1 for the political shenanigans. So, you may favor a shutdown, but the vast majority of Americans do not. It's called majority rule, and Democrats abide by it when Republicans are in charge; why can't Republicans accept the fact that Democrats won the election and they are in charge?

Finally, "Tell the Democrats a little compromise is good." To put it bluntly, why don't you tell the Republicans a little compromise is good? Republicans got 98% of what they wanted in the fiscal cliff negotiation, and Democrats agreed to the Republican budget 6 months ago. I could list pages of additional examples, but I think you can see where I'm going with this. Democrats have rightly drawn the line in repealing a duly passed law. Otherwise, as you suggest, when the Republicans are once again in charge, what will you say if the Democrats use the debt ceiling and the budget to hold Republicans hostage to some demand that they would otherwise never agree?


Well I see that this newspaper only puts comments on here that they want.very one sided but I didn't expect anything more from a red state newspaper.


Some of these comments just make me sick. Some people should know the facts about this situation before commenting. My thoughts and prayers go out to all whom are affected. God Bless!


Too South Dakota ranchers, quit being cry babies and suck it up.you hate the gov.but go running to it for a handout.talk about welfare.practice what you preach preach y'all.you voted for a shutdown so live with it!!!!


I wonder how many of the farmers and ranchers supported the GM bailout.

But once the Farm Bill is passed, they'll be reimbursed - thanks to future generations, Thune and Noem.


Everyone spouting off about how people should have barns for their cows and how this is the rancher's fault should go spend two weeks on a real working ranch until they get a feel for how that business really works. It is a very labor and capital intense way to make a living and every rancher I know works twice as hard as do most people in non-ag businesses.

Yes it's a choice to become a rancher but most people do it because they love animals and that lifestyle.

Rather than sitting at your computer complaining about how poorly these folks have taken care of their animals, go volunteer to help a rancher count cows and move carcasses and you will see how much they are hurting and what a dramatic loss this is to them personally and financially. Thank a rancher, thank a farmer, they grow your food so you don't have to!

Elizabeth May

After reading the Rapid City Journal comments today I thought it would be good to share with people some of the products that come from cattle. I'll bet the people making all the negative comments about ranchers would be hard pressed to say beef/sheep have never impacted their life or the lives of their loved ones. The citizenry of this great nation have become so removed from the land that they haven't a clue!

Stomach: Renis (aid in milk digestion)
Thyroid: Malfunctions of thyroid gland
Blood: Applied locally to wounds to stop bleeding. Refining sugar Shoe Polish
Bones and Hides: Gelatin (Plasma extender)
Red Bone Marrow: Treatment of various blood disorders
Fats: Margerine, soaps, lubricants, lipstick, facecream, hand cream Bones/Cartilage:Glue, fertilizer,toothbrush handles, teething rings Intestines and bladders: Surgical sutures, strings for musical instruments
Collagen: Capsules for medicine, coating for pills, photography

And the list goes on and on.......
Rapid City Journal should be ashamed of themselves!


Like My earlier comment that has disappeared, why dont the cattlemen spend their earnings on a shelter from the winds and extreme heat for the livestock? They drive fancy trucks while the cattle suffer in the elements. Now they want the govt. to pay them for cattle lost. What an awful way to die for these cattle. This storm was predicted, so cattlemen how about getting in the truck or on a horse or 4 wheeler and herd the cattle in to an area with a tree line shelter from the winds at least, of course that would help in the hot sun too. Ever drive by a dairy farm on a 103 degree day and see the cattle that provide our milk suffer in the heat. OH but cattlemen think cows are stupid and dont know any different. I am so sorry the cattle had to suffer for failure of humans again.


I would rather my tax dollars go to help these ranchers who work and raise there own food than to some lazy person who has not a clue what the day in the life of a rancher is - you set and whine about how bad the cattle are treated and how the ranchers shouldn't be helped but meanwhile what are you doing setting on food stamps-and other handouts? The ranchers treat there cattle than a lot of people treat there children. I wonder how many of you whiners have ever had a baby calf in your house because it was to cold, sick or the mother wouldn't let it nurse


The federal government is broke - it has to borrow money to pay for its programs.

It appears you're not completely against welfare... You're choosing one form of welfare (Farm Bill) over another (food stamps-and other handouts).

Reforms are needed in both programs. Maybe, you might take into consideration that the Farm Bill should be income based like SNAP is.


I found this thread of comments and havn't been so upset in a long time, with some of these peoples ignorant comments i.e. Freedome, Joanne Daniel and the other fools that have not a clue what it takes to be a livestock grower not only in SD, but in general. I have had experience in raising milk cows and grew corn, grain and soybeans and hay, when we had a bad year. It was aweful. I can't even imagine what the cattlemen and (women) are going through in SD. My heart goes out to all of you and your families. We choose our lifestyle in because we LOVE what we do, not because we get rich off of it. There is nothing more satisying as to see the cattle and their calves grazing in the pastures or seeing a new born calf trying to get up for the first time. It just makes me misty eyed to read such ignorant comments from people that should keep their mouth shut, when they dont know what the
hxxx their talking about. such as Freedome who thinks it better to "not have a farmer no more cattle to take care of than, what 300?, because you need to keep them in a barn. What planet did she come from. Stress and disease is what you get from putting any large number of livestock in close quarters. and then there is Daniel...mmm he has the audacity to politicize this terrible loss to these hard working, and I MEAN HARD WORKING farmers and their families. Daniel, you need to get onto different site and run your mouth off there. OH and one of the best ignoramise' is Diplomat47.who "question's" the actual number of cattle loss. I would love to see this person to be part of the process in doing a count of this grave loss. Without a mask on, for the stentch he would have to go through duing the count. People like this are so mean spirited and know how to kick a man when their down. These type of comments are like driving a wooden steak through the already bleeding hearts of the families involved. How dare do they comment on what they haven't a clue about it the subject. I loved being in the farming business. It was so rewarding when things went right, but was just devastating when things went wrong. It will take year's before these farmers get back on their feet again. As a side note. My children told me when they were young, "I am so happy we lived on the farm, mom" We learned so much and learned how hard it was", but wouldnt have changed that lifestyle one bit. Unfortunatly my marriage did not last. for other reasons than farming. But will always be greatful of the lifestyle.Nothing better is the smell of the cutting of the first crop of alfalfa, dried sheets on the line, and a new born babies breath. God Bless all of you who have been affected by this freak storm. My heart goes out to all of you. I will keep all of you in my prayers.


jeff miller -said-- You have no concept about what's going on. The house republicans have voted to fund everything except Obamacare. The senate democrats are the one's who have the government shut down. If you would quit listening to the liberal media you might have enough sense to know the facts. I guarantee a majority of the ranchers voted for conservatitive republicans because ranchers work for a living and don't expect handouts like most democrats. Mr. Miller, have you not heard that Pennington and Meade counties have requested disaster aid from federal government? I am sure you will encourage all of your "conservative republican" rancher friends in S.D. to keep their hands in their pockets and not accept any kind of aid from the government. You must also not be aware that REPUBLICAN NO SHOW NOem has had her hand out for more that $3 million dollars of government handouts.


Our thoughts are with all the ranchers and anyone else affected by this snowstorm. God Bless and stay strong!


As if it is not already bad enough being at near bottom of the food chain. I hope someone, somewhere, can come up with something so that this never happens again.


As a former farm girl i feel bad for the cows - no shelter, freezing to death in the snow. They depend on people to see to their welfare and got let down. But south dakota is a state whose elected officials believe in small government and avoiding dependency. Wonder how long before hands are out to DC for federal disaster aid, and applications for payoffs from revenue stop loss insurance - massively subsidized by tax payers I might add.

Yes raising live stock.is hard work - been there and done that. Re the weather welcome to the new normal enjoy.


Terrible tragedy for the ag community but you have learned two things: 1) trade your cattle in for buffalo and 2) build a giant barn to house them in when you see a snowflake. Now for the most important thing, Just as Thune and NO SHOW NOem signed Grover Norquist's pledge for no new taxes, we all need to pledge to save our country with: NO. NEW. REPUBLICANS. EVER. (and get rid of the old ones).


You can always tell when ignorant people speak! The cattle death losses are terrible, this storm was a killer. There was no way these poor ranchers could be prepared for what happened.
I had one days warning here, I had just 28 first calf heifers with calves on their side to take care of, we hadn't bought the hay for them yet, so all I could do was move them to the best cover I had. We got lucky, we never got the accumulation that was forecast. We moved those cattle to the owners ranch today.
I know Mr.Urhig, he used to come out to my place when he was a kid. He is a grown man now and I know David did all he could for those cows. You people spouting off about the republicans and telling ranchers they aren't taking care of their cattle, basically make me sick!
The mess with the government lies in the fact that Obama can't lead, he takes no responsibility and it is always somebody else's fault. The powers that led to his re-elecction make me sick!
I have nothing but the utmost respect for the rancher out there working his tail off.
You idiots with all the answers ought to be out there helping these guys.
Jim Weber

SD rancher

Milo, Why the political agenda? I really can't believe that SD ranchers are connecting cattle losses and the federal government. While it is true that the current administration is out of control not sure how that relates to blizzard fatalities.


Having grown up on a much smaller cattle farm here in Georgia, I can't even imagine what you all are going thru in South Dakota. No matter what, there will always be the type people in this world that are completely clueless to an agricultural lifestyle. I'm so happy that our food sources doesn't depend on these idiots. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all out there. If there's anything that us folks down south can do to help you all out, please let us know. Thanks for all that you do and God Bless to all of you! Keep up the hard work, we appreciate you!


Let us hold people closer than our points.


"The shutdown was caused after House Republicans, including U.S. Rep Kristi Noem, R-S.D., refused to pass a resolution to fund the government unless Democrats weakened or delayed parts of President Obama's 2010 health care overhaul."

Confused as to how this comment makes this article political diatribe? This is the truth. The ACA is a LAW that was passed the same way all laws in this country are passed. The House, Senate, and President all passed and signed off on this bill. Since when is it all of a sudden appropriate to hold the Country hostage because you don't like a LAW that was passed legally? If you want the law repealed, win some elections and get it repealed. And you can say what you want about Congress and the Presidency being controlled by Democrats when this law was passed. How did that happen? The Democrats won majorities in both houses plus the Presidency because the Republicans did such a terrible job running this country. I am not saying the LAW is perfect, but to try and get your way by holding the country hostage is ridiculous. Sorry you lost, repeal the law the right way.


I would imagine there will be subsidy payments to the ranchers. The processors will pass along any increase due to product shortage to the retailer who will in turn skyrocket the price to the consumer who will take it in the shorts....again.

SD Ranch Gal

I cannot believe the IGNORANCE of some people... Freedome - Joanne.
I am living this storm right now. When I found my first buried cow, I cried. She was such a good mama. When we found two bulls not 50 yards from the barn, dead; I was devastated. For your information Joanne, we don't use hormones on any of our cattle. We care for them like they ARE part of our family. To Freedome, you must have grown up on a gentleman's ranch. There isn't a barn big enough to hold a ranchers cattle. Besides, if you kept them in the barn you would then have to worry about disease (from standing in their own manure) and the trampling of the calves. I invite any of you that think this is the ranchers fault to come on out and help us dig dead animals out of the snow drifts. If you do not believe that the cattle loss is in the tens of thousands. Take a drive down highway 34 east of Sturgis to Union Center. Then when you are done with that stretch, take a drive up to Belle Fourche.
And shame on you Rapid City Journal for allowing your personal opinion on politics to show through in this article.


Yeah ranch gal if you really cared like you say you do then why do you vote for those idiots that hurts the people of this country.ya'll don't care until it hurts you personally.until you're kind learns that everyone needs help then you don't need or get any help.welcome to the real world that your PARTY has made for you.GO TO H...


I went through will ease a few years back on my own place. If you haven't been through one and the financial problems that come afterwards. You should be very careful how you comment on what they have been through. Those ranchers today are out working harder to try and get their life back together. Those cattle that died are the soul of those ranchers. I'm not very good at writing. But the comments I see frustrate me.


To Freedome, Putting cows in barns is unrealistic. For one thing having them in a barn even for a short time will cause them to become sick. They need to be in fresh air. And it would take a very very large expensive barn to house all the cows that need to feed this world. The people that actually raise beef anymore are getting farther and fewer in between because it is a lot of work, very expensive, you never know if you will have rain to pasture them, or hay to feed them in the winter. During calving there are blizzards, ice storms, freezing weather, or you can be in knee deep xxxx trying to pull calves out of and have you ever been chased or busted up by a half crazed mother cow. I know all this, I grew up doing this. My husband and I calved out 300 head of cattle in the ice storm this spring and many other springs haven't been much different. We lost over 30 baby calves and about 8 cows. You know nothing about raising cows.You know nothing about how expensive they are or how much money it takes to get a beef to the market. Its not all gravy or else everyone would be doing it. How would the world ever eat if every rancher or farmer kept their cows in a barn or only raised enough cows that they could keep in a barn. Do you actually know how many people live in this world?


There were farmers / ranchers who put their cows into barns. They knew it was better to put the cows in a barn than to have them freeze to death, suffocate, or to drown in a stock pond.

Additionally, some farmers / ranchers made shelters out of hay bales to protect the animals.

Sue Ellen

It is very sad that the rapid city area has become so anti agricultural. Whether you appreciate the job they do or not at least have some compassion. Whether their herd was 50 or 1000, I can guarantee you that they knew each cow/calf pair by a certain marking, crimped up ear, or personality. They are losing more than money. They might be losing their way of life.


I feel for the cattlemen of South Dakota but I question the reporters report of "10s of thousand" of cattle dying. If you stop and think about it that is one heck of a bunch of animals. Having grew up in the sandhills of Nebraska and seen what a winter storm can do, I have to ask, can we get a count.

just stop it

I have read some ignorant comments on the RCJ website before, but this thread tops them all! "ranchers shouldn't raise more cattle then they can get inside" and the bison comment, and then trying to twist it into a political rant! You people are unbelievable!


Ranchers should not have more cattle than barn space. This has changed in the last twenty years as our winters have been nice on the most part. As growing up on a ranch having big storms we never lost even one cow. These ranchers should be shut down if they don't have the space for the animals inside barns.

There may be a few exceptions for this & that would be ranchers that were still using summer pastures like in the hills that they did not have time to round up the herd to transport them home.

This is abuse of animals that can't take of them self. This was a standard ranching practice having enough barn space for your cattle. If these people take short cuts trying to make more money than they should not get any free help or free money when they fail.


As the article stated, most were in summer pasture and the severity of the storm was not anticipated. And let's say some of these ranchers did put all of their livestock in a barn and then the storm was sufficiently bad to cause it to collapse. I suppose then you would be bashing them again, saying they shouldn't have stuffed all their cattle into a barn where they would be trapped.
You obviously know nothing about animal agriculture to have made this post.


Thoughts and prayers with the ranchers during this terrible time.


Freedome: Just curious where you grew up on a ranch that had a barn big enough for all the cows, calves, bulls, horses and other livestock necessary to operate a viable ranch? A single family rancher needs to have at least 500 head to make ends meet now days. Otherwise it is quite a struggle and that is why most families rely on supplemental income. Lots of ranches are father/son with over 1000 head and plenty of work to do to keep them healthy.
I grew up on a ranch in South Dakota where my dad said not to put the cattle in the barn unless absolutely necessary as it stressed them and they could survive better not stressed. Our barn was about 20' x 40' and used for storing the horse equipment and grain and a couple of stalls for the horses and once in the while a cow that needed help claiming a calf.
There have been some cattle killed by being trampled because they were in a barn or corral during the storm. What about the dairy barn in Nebraska that was hit by a tornado and killed all the cows in it.
Animal Cruelty????

What a tragedy for all the ranchers. Ignorant comments by someone obviously who has no knowledge is not helpful.


Freedome I do not know where you had a big ranch at but if it was big you must have a had one BIG BARN! It is not uncommon for a real rancher to have over 300 head of cattle or more in the central United States-I would really like to see a barn that big and I would like to see you be the one to clean up behind the cattle! you do know what kind of a mess cattle make after they eat don't you? The story itself says the storm was early and that the ranchers had not brought the cattle closer to home yet. This time of the year it is not uncommon for cattle to still be out on the cornstocks. When the cattle are brought home in the fall they have to fed -hay-corn etc. that was stockpiled for the winter-so if you bring them in before it is necessary you will run out of food for them before spring comes. Don't you think it would be abusive to starve the animals at the end of the winter because there is no food for them? Unlike people cattle can't just go to the grocery store and get groceries! You are beyond ignorant -you are pitiful and need to get a clue as to what cattle ranching is all about. I have the utmost respect for these ranchers-while you think they are abusive there hearts are broken -these cattle are not just there income they are a part of there family something you would NEVER be able to understand!

jeff miller

You must have grown up on the ranch for thirty minutes because every ranch everywhere has lost cows, no matter how many barns they have. It is amazing how ignorant some people are.


Freedome: Wow - this must be a terrible joke or you are uneducated and ignorant. Sorry, but growing up on a small hobby farm with a barn to saftely fit a few head of cattle doesn't count. Clearly if your barn could hold all of your cattle, then you did not grow up on an actual ranch. Try visiting a real working ranch to get an idea how one is actually run, the space, size, and number of livestock.
It might be in your best interest to educate yourself somewhat on the history of ranches and get your facts straight. Our ranch was homesteaded around 1900 and has been operated pretty much the same over the past 100+ years, including the barns. Having enough barns or large enough barns to safely hold several hundred to over 1,000 head is not feasible or even realistic.
Educate yourself before posting foolish comments and making yourself look ignorant.


My thoughts and prayers are with all of the ranchers back home. Family and close friends have been effected by this tragedy. These hearty souls will pick up the pieces and move on, no doubt in my mind about that. They will not run around blaming others while there is work to be done.

Daniel, your politicized article is despicable. Especially dropping on the shoulders of the people I spoke of above. There is nothing political about a fall storm in Western South Dakota. It happens, get over it, and stop trying to equate this with an unfounded debate on what is going on in Washington. Obamacare and cattle in the same article? Really? And conveniently never a mention of a balanced budget for gov't funding?


I am very sorry to hear about the terrible loss of livestock caused by Friday's storm. I am also distressed to see how Daniel Richie chose to politicize her article by blaming Republicans for the Government shutdown. You would think a reporter would be more informed! The House Republicans have passed at least 7 bills that would fund the operation of our government (some in totality others partially). Its Obama and Reid that refuse any negotiated settlement and insist they get 100% of what they want. Their refusal to compromise shut down the government or should I say selected portions of the government. Obama only closed those services that had plenty of visibility and which would create the most hardships! He reduced our Border Patrols along the Mexico border to allow illegals in and he increased National Park Patrols to secure our Parks and Memorials from use by citizens. Before blaming Republicans go back to basic Government 101. The House is responsible for initiating fiscal legislation. The House is currently controlled by Republicans who are doing what their constituents favor. Thats their job. Just as Democrats are representing theirs. Its called Checks and Balances and Separation of Powers. It is designed to force compromise and avoid a President from becoming a despot!. Thank your Republican representatives for remembering how our Government works! Tell the Democrats a little compromise is good. Some day Republicans may control the Presidency and Senate and the Democrats will be glad they allowed compromise!


Does this help you sleep at night.

The shutdown was caused after Democrats refused to accept a resolution put forth by House Republicans, including U.S. Rep Kristi Noem, R-S.D., to fund the government that would also weaken or delay parts of President Obama's 2010 health care overhaul.

On Monday, Sen. Kristi Noem, pointed to South Dakota's battered ranchers as another example of why Democrats needed to continue funding the government with the preconditions.


Then why won't the Republicans put it on the floor and vote on it. Do Not put earmarks on this type of legislation.


soo sorry for your loss in this freak storm my prayers are with you through this struggle stay strong

Rancher's Daughter

Jonnnnn- lucky for you that your minimum wage job cleaning toilets can never be affected by a natural disaster. The impact of this storm will have an effect on local and state economics. Maybe that works for you since fewer people will be out and about, hence not making more work for you.

Big River

Our hearts and prayers go out to the hard working, honest ranchers of South Dakota and this country. As for the fine young gentleman from New Zealand by way of the Philipines, author of this article, please know that your political diatribe would be best reserved for the editorial page. In our system of government, the House of Representatives controls the purse, and this country would be well advised in stopping the never-ending addition to the National Debt, currently exacerbated by Obamacare. The Speaker of the House has said repeatedly he is open to compromise and discussion - it is The Messiah, the Chosen One, who knows better than us all and who refuses to even speak of compromise. Senator Thune and Representative Noem are doing a fine job, one consistent with the mores and values of a state whose constitution mandates no state debt. While unquestionably an unspeakable tragedy, nothing they nor anyone else could have done would stop an early October storm of this magnitude. Our thoughts are with the ranchers affected by this tragedy.


The massive livestock loss is so reminiscent of the Blizzard of '49. The time of year (October v January), the temperatures (near freezing v below zero), and duration (2 days v weeks) were significantly different in 2013 and 1949, but the extensive livestock losses were similar.


Our ranchers need help and noem and thune shut down all funding for disasters like this. I wonder who these ranchers voted for in the elections.

jeff miller

You have no concept about what's going on. The house republicans have voted to fund everything except Obamacare. The senate democrats are the one's who have the government shut down. If you would quit listening to the liberal media you might have enough sense to know the facts. I guarantee a majority of the ranchers voted for conservatitive republicans because ranchers work for a living and don't expect handouts like most democrats.

Idaho rancher

Our hearts and prayers go out to our fellow ranchers. Absolutely devastating.

Idaho rancher

Our hearts go out to our fellow ranchers. Absolutely devastating.


Any complainers about this storm do not know their South Dakota history - check out the blizzards of 1888, of 1997, etc. The cattle barons would be better off raising bison. No one with common sense want to eat hormone and antibiotic laden genetically weaken cattle.


Wow. You must not be from around here, or if you are, you must be completely clueless. Regardless of freak blizzards, the cattle industry is much, MUCH bigger than the bison industry and it drives our economy. To call our ranchers ignorant as you have is completely disgusting. When you go to Wal*Mart and start paying 6 or 7 dollars per pound for beef, you are going to sing a different tune. This is going to affect EVERYBODY sooner or later. Especially given the government shutdown. The ranchers will not see relief for months, maybe years, if at all. This has NOTHING to do with hormones and antibiotics.


what do you mean when we star paying 6 or 7 dollars a pound for beef? The last steak I bought was on sale for 6.00 a pound on sale. If it was going to the ranchers I wouldn't complain but unfortunately it is not.


Jonnnnn, really? Buffalo? Do you think if 3.5 million cows in South Dakota are replaced with buffalo, there is an outlet for all that meat? Do you realize that buffalo are an undomesticated wild animal? Do you realize that raising beef cattle is hundreds of thousands of people's main (many-only) source of income? Do you suppose ranchers are using antibiotics for for anything other than to prevent an animal from dying? Ever heard of "drug free beef"? I know that Mother Nature is something you deal with while ranching, but your ignorance and lack of knowledge frustrates me. So uninformed. How would you like it if you lost 20-50% of your income for this year? And compromised your income for the next 5, to recover from 1 snowstorm? It's so easy to make an uneducated, uninformed opinion from the outside. Spent a day in there boots,covered in mud, snow, and blood, piling this springs dead calf crop. Do you recall this spring? Late snow storms, colder temps. I think the ranchers could use a break, not pointers on what they should be doing from someone clearly not knowledgeable of their situation.


Wow, hard to contemplate the sheer ignorance in that statement. As Bill Engvall would say: Jonnnnn, Here's your sign...


what bison can't be hormone and antibiotic laced?


Funny how a news paper artical about such a tragedy instantly turns into a political issue that blames the only party that has offered to negotiate and make funds available for the people affted by this brutal storm. Sad when a reporter has an agenda they can't put aside during a difficult time for so many.

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