Official numbers for cattle loss in the Panhandle and eastern Wyoming from the blizzard on March 13-14, have yet to be announced.
In the Scottsbluff area, though, veterinarian Dr. Travis Van Anne estimates the loss is around 4,000 cattle perished in the blizzard.
Van Anne DVM with the Animal Health Center in Scottsbluff has been out since the Friday after the blizzard doing death loss notices for producers. The notices are necessary when applying for the FSA Livestock Indemnity Program.
“I’ve been up until 8 p.m. every day since then (March 15) mainly to get caught up,” he said. “In our immediate area, my guess would be 800 baby calves, maybe that many mature cows and then a couple of thousand feedlot calves.”
The bomb cyclone, as described by the National Weather Service creates a massive drop in air pressure that triggers historic weather.
The blizzard brought more than 10 inches of snowfall and winds gusting at more than 50 mph throughout the storm and before the snow came rain, which spelled doom for many of the cattle.
“When the hide gets wet, and then there is snow and wind, those things can be detrimental to cattle,” Van Anne said.
Some of the cattle he’s seen not only froze in the harsh conditions but also suffocated in the snow, buried by drifts.
While the snow has all but melted with the mild conditions, rain has followed creating more mud in already muddy fields and feed yards.
Van Anne suggests livestock producers keep an eye now, on a cow’s body condition.
“One of the reasons is cheatgrass. Usually, it’s warm enough where we get the greening of the grasses in February and certainly in March,” he said. “So, without the green grass, the body condition of the cows are a little worse.”
He adds, calves could be prone to navel infections and producers should consider branding early, as the calves could use an antibiotic. Plus, it would allow the producers to count the cattle and know if any are missing.
Rain remains in the forecast for the week, which means more mud. The mud could create challenges for already stressed cattle.
“Anytime a cow walks in the mud, it hurts the cow-calf and feedlot producers,” Van Anne said. “Any nutrients she’s taking in is being lost from walking in the mud.”
In the feedlot, cattle could be pushed by 20 to 30 days from going out, which will cost the feedlot extra to finish them.
Producers should keep in mind to apply for the Livestock Indemnity Program they have 30 calendar days of when the loss is first apparent, which for the blizzard would be April 15.
For more information or to report cattle loss, contact your local FSA office.