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Western ND ranchers brace for more winter weather

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Much of the western portion of North Dakota is under a blizzard warning this weekend.

Ranchers in North Dakota continue to battle wintry conditions while trying to protect their cattle this spring.

Jeff Schafer is President of the North Dakota Stockman’s Association, and says his 5th generation ranch near New Rockford calves out about 500 head of cattle every year. During the blizzard leading up to Easter weekend, Schafer says between 15 and 20 inches of snow fell on his ranch. He says the snow makes things tough, but it wasn’t the biggest obstacle during that storm.

"The greatest enemy, bar none, is the wind. It's just so hard to get those cattle out of the wind. When you're calving, those calves are stressed right away. And the moisture gets them wet, and the wind just adds a wind chill factor. That's been the greatest challenge."

He says for now, he’s keeping his cattle in a smaller, more confined space to protect them from the elements. Weather models predict that colder, wetter patterns may persist into next month. Schafer says that is a big concern for him and the health of his herd.

"Nature's best medicine is sunshine and green grass, and everyone's looking forward to that - including the cows. When that day comes, I don't know who's going to be happier, the cow's or the producers."

Schafer says high feed costs have also proven to be an uphill battle.

Much of western North Dakota is in a blizzard warning or winter weather advisory this weekend, while eastern North Dakota has been issued a hazardous weather outlook.