NewsMontana AG Network


Montana Ag Network: Ranchers coping with sub-zero weather

Cold Cows
Posted at 11:24 AM, Jan 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-30 13:27:01-05

Many of us can stay indoors to escape the frigid air, but that is not an option for farmers and ranchers.

We talked with a rancher on the Rocky Mountain Front as she prepared for our arctic blast.

Arctic air has settled on the prairies of Montana after over a month-long hiatus.

“They know it's going to get cold, that’s why they’re eating all the straw,” rancher Jamie Woldstad stated.

Ranchers are working around the clock to prepare their livestock for the dangerous windchills and blowing snow.

“Blizzard conditions does make it difficult,” Woldstad stated.

Living in Montana we have to deal with everything from extreme cold to subzero wind chills and heavy snowfall and no one has to be out in the elements more than farmers and ranchers.

We stopped by a ranch just outside of Valier on the Rocky Mountain Front where they're preparing their livestock.

“The extreme wind chill makes things a little difficult,” Woldstad explained. “That type of weather, we're checking a lot. I mean, it's, you know, sleepless nights, sleepless days.”

Out on the Rocky Mountain Front, the drastic elevation change creates a harsh climate for any person or animal. However, Woldstad says that the livestock is more resilient than you would think.

“The cows, they seem to do pretty well. Yeah, definitely resilient animals. And we put a lot of straw out. The cows will consume that straw,” Woldstad stated. “That just helps keep their core temperature up so they can get through the extreme weather.”

Preparing for the deep freeze is more than just prepping the animals. It's also about prepping the entire ranch to withstand well below zero temperatures.

“I think it's harder on us to having to be out in that type element and working through it and things not going right because usually every time it's the tractor gels up or the water freezes up and that's an all day trying to get that thought out and going again,” Woldstad said.

She noted that a rancher’s job is never done, “it doesn't. It's seven days a week, 365 days a year. But I love it.”

“We just do the best we can and, you know, just hope for warmer days sooner than later,” Woldstad concluded.