Upward of 10,000 head of livestock died in a blizzard that ravaged South Dakota the weekend of Oct. 4, the state’s Animal Industry Board reported today.
The count was far below earlier estimates of 60,000 to 100,000 dead animals but still a significant hit to South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers. The state has a cattle population of 3.85 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A spokeswoman for State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven, DVM, placed the latest casualty count at 7,396 cattle, 250 sheep and 96 horses, based on reports from 94 producers.
The deadly storm whipped up 70 mph winds and dropped 3 to 4 feet of snow.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack dispatched Under Secretary Michael Scuse to South Dakota to collect more information.
“We appreciate the devastation that these storms have basically caused in livestock operations [and] we would love to be able to provide help and assistance,” Vilsack said in remarks released Thursday.
“At this point all we can do is collect information, make sure that we have accurate information, so when and if the Congress reinstates the Livestock Disaster Assistance Programs, makes them retroactive to when they lapsed in 2011, we are in a position to provide help and assistance at some point in the future to allow folks to get through this tough time.”