North Dakota livestock farmers and ranchers brace for another winter storm

March 13, 2019 

Amber Boeshans
Executive Director, ND Livestock Alliance

How North Dakota’s beef, dairy and pig farmers are preparing for this week’s storm.

BISMARCK, ND – As North Dakota livestock producers brace for yet another, possibly historic, blizzard the ND Livestock Alliance (NDLA) would like to share some of the many precautions farmers and ranchers are taking to protect their animals and operations. 

North Dakotans are no strangers to winter storms but regardless of weather challenges, animal needs must be met. Providing feed and shelter is top of mind to all producers. Ahead of the storm, farmers prepare extra feed and move it to an easily accessible area. Farmers with animals outdoors build wind breaks or move animals to a sheltered area. Many cow/calf producers are calving this time of year, so shelter and bedding are especially important to ensure safe delivery of new calves. 

In addition to feeding and shelter, dairy and pig farmers make other preparations. Regardless of weather, cows must be milked and calves and piglets will be born. Electricity is vital to dairy barns so they can continue to run their milking systems. NDLA Vice Chair and Mandan dairy farmer, Kenton Holle, says “Dairy farmers are checking their backup generators to make sure they are fueled and ready. This one [storm] is a special challenge because we are still digging out from the last blizzard and now have to prepare for new snowfall plus high winds.” 

Back-up generators are integral to pig barns to keep the ventilation and heat systems functioning. Did you know that newborn piglets need their surroundings to be kept at 85-90 degrees! Todd Erickson, general manager of North Dakota Sow Co-op in Nelson County says “The key to keeping piglets healthy is keeping them warm, dry and draft free. Under threat of harsh weather, my staff and I have slept in the barn to ensure we are here to keep our pigs safe. We have also been removing snow from our roof to prevent building collapse.” 

As we keep North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers in our thoughts, we also want to be thankful for the dedication of the farm employees, milk truck drivers and other important people who help farmers and ranchers through these tough weather events. For further information, please contact the North Dakota Livestock Alliance 701-712-1488,