Black cow covered by snow in winter storm.

NDSU Extension Helps Ranchers Weather Winter Storms

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The winter storms that much of North Dakota experienced in April of 2022 will be recorded in history, and not favorably. Areas of North Dakota experienced snowfall amounts that broke records, and the subsequent extended windy, cold weather severely impacted the health and mortality of livestock in the regions that were hardest hit.

Although conditions varied wildly across the state, they included approximate snowfall totals up to 48 inches and wind speeds up to 60 mph.

“This storm was especially detrimental to ranchers because of the time of year,” says Miranda Meehan, NDSU Extension livestock environmental stewardship specialist. “Many ranchers were in the middle of their calving season and/or had young calves on the ground.”

To help state and federal agencies assess storm damage, NDSU Extension conducted a county-based survey to determine the impacts of the storm on North Dakota livestock.

In total, 41 counties participated in the spring storm impact assessment. Most counties reported major impacts, with the most common storm-related challenges reported by livestock farmers/ranchers being livestock health, lack of bedding, inadequate and/ or damaged buildings, structures or facilities, lack of windbreaks and inadequate feed supplies.

In addition to the storm assessment survey, NDSU Extension specialists and county agents worked to provide information to ranchers through:

  • Five news releases with educational information, reaching more than 20,000 individuals
  • 12 radio and TV news interviews, reaching an estimated 500,000 individuals
  • Social media posts with a reach of 191,089 views and 4,887 engagements
  • 10 educational videos that received 2,648 views
  • Development of a dedicated winter weather resources page on the NDSU Ag Hub website

Because of the assessment work done by NDSU Extension and the resulting information, the Farm Service Agency’s request to change the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) payment rates for calves less than 250 pounds was approved. This resulted in the rate increasing from $175.27 to $474.38 per head for beef. Rates were also increased for bison, beefalo and dairy.

In North Dakota, 1,982 ranchers have reported livestock losses for 2022. To date, 362 LIP applications have been paid, totaling $2.8 million.


NDSU Ag Hub Winter Weather Site

Miranda Meehan, (701) 231-7683,