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Published October 07, 2013, 03:00 PM

Snowstorm brings record livestock death loss

As South Dakota livestock owners begin to dig out from one of the worst blizzards to hit western South Dakota in recorded history, reports of animal losses are just coming in.

BROOKINGS, S.D. — As South Dakota livestock owners begin to dig out from one of the worst blizzards to hit western South Dakota in recorded history, reports of animal losses are just coming in.

“Producers and family’s members are busy trying to recover from the results of this terrible blizzard,” says Julie Walker, South Dakota State University Extension beef specialist. Walker urges livestock producers to document death loss. “At the present time, we don’t know if there will be any governmental program to assist ranchers. This may take awhile because the federal shutdown has furloughed key local USDA staff.”

“We know that you don’t need another task during this difficult time but it is critical that you document your losses. The lesson learned from winter of 1996 to 1997 showed the importance of good records needed for getting some assistance from governmental programs,” she says.

What to record

Here are some things to record/document during this time.

•Number of dead animals

•Time/labor for processing dead animals

•Equipment used and amount of time

•Pictures or videos — make sure the date is set correctly and is on. Try to show detail to substantiate number dead.

Walker adds that having a third party verify losses can be helpful; however, she says it may not be practical in most situations because travel and access are difficult to impossible. So, taking pictures is a producer’s next best options.

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