N.D. ranch second-guessing feed reserves.
The region can't seem to shake the cold snap that it is in. Whichever coffee shop, large or small, the topic of the day is the frigid weather.
In North Dakota, Roger Effertz of Effertz Key Ranch at Velva, says he is more than a little tired of the winter weather. Having gotten their first big snow of 15" the first weekend in November, Old Man Winter hasn't let up on the area, sending down subzero temperatures and wind.
"Everything's colder when you have snow on the ground, the cattle have to use more energy to stay warm," says Effertz. "We are well below our normal winter temperature of 25 degrees. I think we have been lulled to sleep by all the talk of this "Global Warming". It's snowing in Las Vegas. You can't tell me there is anyone left there who is still talking about Global Warming."
Currently Effertz Key Ranch is feeding approximately a 1,000 head of cattle at the area where they normally calve, having decided to bring them in to be close to feed.
At 45 calendar days from calving, Effertz is watching his younger cows with a close eye. "We may have kept them out [on pasture] too long," says Effertz. "A few of the younger cows look thinner than we would like going into calving season. We are looking at possibly adding corn to their ration to help get them back into shape, but it might be too late."
The Velva area, according to Effertz, didn't see any significant amount of moisture during the summer months. July and August rain was nonexistent.
That led to many ranchers in the area grazing longer than they necessarily wanted to on certain pastures and beginning to look for other feed sources.
A mixture of shorter pastures and winter weather, led Effertz Key Ranch to begin feeding straw hay and silage on Nov. 10, at least 15 days ahead of the ranch's normal winter-feeding schedule.
"We thought we were doing alright," says Effertz of the feed supply on hand. "Now, with these subzero temperatures I can't even calculate how fast we are going through feed. We just know that we might not make it through the winter now on our supply and are looking at possibly buying in feed."
There are two other big questions for the Effertz Key Ranch - are they going to be able to get enough feed energy into their younger cows to have them produce a strong calf in February and secondly, are they are going to be able to turn out on grass come May 1.
Effertz doubts that they will be able to turn out the cattle that soon because of the lack of grass last year and estimates an additional 50 days to calculate into his winter feeding costs.
"At a minimum of a dollar a day, that is $50 more per head that we may have to pay," says Effertz.
Even with things darn cold and looking a little costly, Effertz says he is glad to see the area finally getting some moisture. "Hopefully this weather will help fill up a few stock dams and bring back the pastures."