The early October blizzard took away more than this fall’s calf crop for many producers in western South Dakota, the genetic makeup of the lost animals will take years to rebuild.

Jim Krantz, South Dakota State University Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist, says cattle are bred to fit the resources surrounding them with those specific genetics taking years to develop.

“A cow or heifer only has one calf each year, so it takes years and generations to develop genetics,” Krantz said. “Each ranch is unique and may have different genetic needs based on the environment, feed resources and country they live in.”

Donations are pouring in to assist producers affected by the blizzard. Livestock associations in South Dakota have already collected over $400,000 from around the country to help alleviate the situation. Government assistance is anticipated with the passage of a new farm bill, although a definite timeline is unknown. The blizzard has led some producers to find another job to cover some of their losses.

Adele Harty, SDSU Cow/Calf Field Specialist, put the situation in perspective.