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‘We’re working around the clock’: Colorado ranchers preparing for weekend storm

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LAS ANIMAS, Colo. (KDVR) — There’s an old joke in Colorado’s ranching community: If you’re waiting for a calf to be born, just wait for the next storm. 

So it comes as no surprise that ranchers across the state are carefully watching the forecast for this weekend’s storm. 

“A lot of producers are in the middle of calving right now,” says Erin Karney. “When it’s the most stressful time, they like to calve.” 

Karney’s family runs a ranch outside of Las Animas in southeast Colorado.

A 2007 blizzard wiped out more than 10,000 cattle in the region, as devastated ranchers struggled to reach stranded livestock. 

“I remember the 2007 blizzard, using a snowmobile to get to a group of cows that couldn’t get to the house, and we just had to wait for the snow to melt,” says Karney. 

More than three days out from the upcoming storm, Karney says ranchers in the region are already preparing for similar conditions. 

“We’re working around the clock,” she says. “We’re getting extra bedding down, we’re getting cattle extra close to our feeding grounds, to our houses, and making sure there’s wind breaks and everything like that.”

Karney says even with heavy snow, cattle can be surprisingly resilient. She says the bigger concern is heavy snow mixed with wind and cold temperatures.

“I would say with cattle, the most concerning part is 1, temperature — getting below freezing, and 2, wind, especially when it’s snowing because it drifts,” she says. 

The Colorado Cattleman’s Association is also monitoring the forecast closely, and could deploy emergency resources or create an emergency fund if needed later this week.

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