Record snow fall makes raising cattle challenging

Three and a half feet of snow is miserable for just about anyone, especially if you have 150 head of cattle.

In a consumer article, rancher explains how he puts the animals' needs first. This is the type of article that more consumers need to read and understand about the beef cattle industry. -AN

Three and a half feet of snow is miserable for just about anyone, especially if you have 150 head of cattle. All roughly two weeks away from calving, cows that have to be feed a couple of times a day.

"I feed the cows in the morning and the rest of the day I'll plow snow," Jan Taylor, cattle ranch owner said.

Jan Taylor owns 150 cows. During a time when the economy makes it tough to make money in cattle. However, no matter how tough it gets or how deep the snow, it has to be done. Six inches or six feet of snow, doesn't make a difference in this business.

The animals, Taylor's livelihood, need water and they need to be fed. It's all more difficult in the snow.

"You gotta come out here and feed the animals and take care of them because they can't do it for themselves. These old cows, they come running right over here as soon as they seen this tractor. They're out here struggling in three feet of snow; it takes a lot of energy to do that," said Taylor.

Now, even though the snow and cold make life miserable for Jan and for his cows, the older animals can deal with the weather. They won't just freeze to death and don't usually don't get sick.

It's the calves, all 150 of them due to be born in the next few weeks, that can't stand the weather.

"Your insides are just churning all this time cause something's gonna go wrong. You just know that it will, sooner or later," Taylor said.

And keeping those calves alive is nearly impossible.

"You're up every two hours, checking the cows for calves," said Taylor.

Jan keeps the cows he thinks are close to having calves in a shed overnight but every once in a while he'll miss one, guess wrong, and a calf will be born outside.

If a wet, newborn calf is born out in this, barring some miracle, it'll be frozen to death in minutes.

"You're trying to be out here every minute to make sure you get your calves on the ground alive. And invariably you'll have some failures," Taylor said.

With feed prices up, beef prices down and snow totals rising, persistence is paramount.

"I guess the key is, just keep on going, you just gotta do it because the animals come first," said Taylor.