A number of South Dakota cattle were killed after a harsh blizzard swept across the state's western region last week. USA Today reports Oct. 14 that tens of thousands of cattle died from the storm and ranchers plan to dispose of their carcasses in pits in Pennington County Monday.
South Dakota cattle rancher, Heath Ferguson, lost 96 percent of his herd that consisted of 100 black Angus and Limousin cattle, a cost of about $250,000.
The blizzard blasted through with up to four-feet of snow that fell in the Black Hills area last weekend. There were reports of 20 or more inches of snow -- with 21½ inches in Rapid City. It was a 24-hour period record in both areas the whole month of October.
Livestock took the hardest hit after the merciless blizzard. Two deaths have also been attributed to the storm.
The report added that South Dakota cattle ranchers, as well as other ranchers across the nation, typically rely on the federal Livestock Indemnity Program, but the bill has expired. With the government shutdown in place, its future is on hold until congress reconvenes.
"We're an independent, pretty self-sufficient bunch, but we need help," Ferguson said.
At least 10,000 to 20,000 South Dakota cattle total have died as a result of the blizzard, state officials said. They expect the number to rise. Ranchers are urged to document livestock losses with photos, vaccination and hauling records in case disaster payments emerge in the future.
The Stockgrowers Association, the South Dakota Cattlemen's Association and the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association are requesting relief fund donations to help ranchers. There are a couple of Montana groups are looking for cattle and sheep donations to help out the South Dakota cattle ranchers.