GREAT FALLS — The extreme cold is creating a challenge for ranchers as calving season gets underway.
Temperatures in part of Montana recently dropped to -30º and even colder in some spots, with daytime highs not even getting above 0º.
When calves are born, they are wet and can easily freeze to death in the extreme cold.
Orville Skogen is a rancher in Fort Shaw and said he had lost numerous calves as of Friday, including one Thursday night.
“We got to him five minutes after he was born and in 15 minutes he was dead already,” said Skogen.
Luckily, he said, as of Friday most calving operations weren’t yet in full swing:
"We've got 250 or 275 on the ground is all we've got, and most of those are first-calf heifers. We're able to handle that, but we'll get to a point in here where we're going to start getting 50, 60, 70 a day. When that happens, if the weather is tough like this, it just gets so tough you can't handle it all."
Every calf that dies costs a rancher between $800 to $1,000.