Oklahoma Ranchers Struggle After Weeks Of Snow

Wednesday, February 9th 2011, 10:23 pm
By: News On 6

Jennifer Broaddus, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- In this type of weather lots of folks are forced to work from home or take a vacation day, but it's a different story for Oklahoma ranchers.

Livestock depend on them for food, shelter and water no matter how much snow we get.

Mother nature packed a one two punch, and like everyone else, Green Country farms are feeling it.

Last week's snow had just started to melt when the next round hit.

"This latest storm probably didn't have quite as much preparation time, because we were still recovering and that gives us a big problem," said Ron Hays of the Oklahoma Farm Report.

Keeping a fresh supply of food and water to cattle is a rancher's top priority. Without it, the animals don't have the energy they need to keep warm and survive.

Granville Martin knows just how important hay is. He's been feeding cattle all of his life. He said chores that would normally take him three hours and are taking closer to eight.

"I lost a baby calf in the cold weather. I didn't have it at a rent place and I don't have a barn there...and having a calf this time of year is just really devastating. They get cold and they just don't make it," Martin said.

Cattle eat two times as much in the winter but sometimes just getting to them is a challenge. Farm trucks get stuck in snow drifts and feed is twice as heavy with a foot of snow on top.

"Even just getting through gates is really difficult. Because the snow is going to be piled up in front of some gates that I go through. And I'll have to take my shovel and clear out a place to where I can even get through the gates," Martin said.

It's hard work for the 61-year-old rancher. But he says he wouldn't trade it for the world.

"The rewarding thing is those cows will be waiting on you. And they hear the tractor, they see you. And here they'll come just like if you had some pets," he said.

The Oklahoma Farm Service Agency provides disaster assistance to farmers and ranchers. But agency programs have strict guidelines to document lost livestock.

Officials say to take pictures and keep any paperwork you have for the animals.