PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Cattle should be able to make it through the frigid temperatures and howling winds predicted for the next few days if they have feed, water and shelter, according to South Dakota ranchers.
Bob Fortune of Belvidere, in the southwestern part of the state, spent Saturday hauling hay and other feed to his cattle to prepare them for a wind chill expected to reach 50 to 60 degrees below zero by Sunday night.
"In our location, that's about all we have to do. We've got some really rough country for the cattle to get down into the breaks," Fortune said.
An early October blizzard killed at least 20,000 cattle in western South Dakota, but the animals were weakened by cold rain that fell before the snow. Fortune said cattle are better prepared to handle the current weather because they have grown their winter hair, and he added that little moisture is expected.
"We're not too worried about it," Fortune said. "It's a part of ranching. You don't like it when it gets this cold because cattle don't gain much when it's this cold or they're apt to lose a little weight."
Chuck O'Connor, who ranches near Philip in western South Dakota, agreed that the frigid weather with no threat of snow doesn't compare with the October storm.
"To be honest with you, it's just another day of winter to me. It's nothing I'm going to get excited about yet," O'Connor said.
O'Connor said he fed hay to his cattle Saturday, but they didn't even bother to come in to eat it.
Fortune, 65, said ranchers can deal with winter weather better than in decades past because they work in tractors with heated cabs.
"You want to make sure you're not exposed and get your work done before the wind comes up. Then you hunker down and let it blow over and then go back to work," Fortune said.