Courtesy photo
Cattle at Baxter Angus, Rockham, S.D. navigate the snow piled up by Storm Wesley that impacted the area April 11-12. The area was reported to have 24-28 inches of snow.
Courtesy photo Cattle at Baxter Angus, Rockham, S.D. navigate the snow piled up by Storm Wesley that impacted the area April 11-12. The area was reported to have 24-28 inches of snow.
By Codi Vallery-Mills

It’s mid-April and cattle producers in the region still have snow covering their barnyards. Lots of snow. The latest storm to hit South Dakota and surrounding states was named Stormed Wesley and while it was not a bomb cyclone like Storm Ulmer which left so much devastation in Nebraska, it was still deemed a “powerhouse blizzard” by weather meterologists.
Storm Wesley began in South Dakota the late evening of April 9. Dropping first rain in the western half of the state, which quickly turned over to snow as the temperature dropped. Much of the snow melted into the ground but as the storm progressed across the state and temps remained low the snow inches began to accumulate.
In the Mobridge, S.D. area Casey Perman reports ranchers there got 12-18 inches of snow. He himself is at the tail-end of his calving season at Cane Creek Cattle Co. “So, we fed along the windbreaks and calf shelters. Most of the calves are 60 days old and handled it pretty well. The temperature wasn’t bad, but the wind made things cold,” Perman says. He knows producers in his area will have losses but not to the extent others in the state might have.
Perman is also part owner of Mobridge Livestock Market. He says the winter storm in March and this one in April caused sales to be cancelled but consignments aren’t backed up too much.
What is going to be delayed is farm work in the area. “All this mud will slow things up. Farmers will be late planting and putting up feed. The ground is going to warm up a lot later and delay things. We are just waiting for grass to green up and then kick these buggers out on grass,” Perman says of cattle in his area of South Dakota.
Three days after the storm and further to the east at Rockham, S.D. Mark Baxter, of Baxter Angus, was busy trying to figure out how to get feed to his cattle on Monday, April 15.  “We can’t even get our feed wagon to the cattle to feed we have so much snow and mud.  I have an alleyway that is four-foot-deep with snow right now. We are having to use loader buckets to feed,” Baxter says.
Snow began to fall heavy at his place on the morning of Thursday, April 11. “And it began to pile up. I have never seen snow pile up so fast,” he says. By then end of it he estimates the Rockham area received 24-28 inches of snow.
Winds that ranged in the 40-50 mph speed made the large snow fall pack into Baxter’s open face barn and calf shelters making them useless for cattle protection. “It’s just a hopeless feeling when you have all this infrastructure that can’t be used,” Baxter says.
Baxter is two-thirds done calving and estimates his calf death loss will be double of what it normally is. He has been busy giving over-eating shots, treating for scours and watching over calves that got chilled by the wind.
“The first day of the storm the calves seemed to have done well. But by the second day it looked like the walking dead,” Baxter says.