WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 03, 2010, 09:22 AM

Last year's losses have cattle farmers getting ready early

Valley City, ND (WDAY TV) - Some area farmers and ranchers are taking action to save livestock, before flood waters begin to rise. More than 90-thousand head of cattle were lost during last year's flood in North Dakota. This farmer near Enderlin lost 19-head of cattle. He says it was a 20-thousand dollar loss.

Flood waters forced cattle to find dry ground, in some cases, destroying fences to get there. Others were trapped and drowned. So with another possible flood this Spring, cattle farmers at the North Dakota Winter Show in Valley City say they're getting ready early, so history doesn't repeat itself.

Last spring, Todd Anderson's farm, north of Milnor was surrounded by the Sheyenne.

“Our only access was across a field for a month, to get in and out.”

The family built up dikes around the home and farm to protect their herd of cattle, but the water was too much.

“Broke lose one night and was going to end up coming over, so we ended up moving cows at about 11 o'clock at night with some neighbors and getting them up on some high ground.”

In the process, Anderson lost some feed and ended up having to haul it back and forth. Now he's making plans to move his herd to higher ground before the water rises again.

“Pretty stressful, but I guess kind of like the farming game. You can't worry too much about it or you're not going to be in it, Mother Nature does its thing.”

But not all cattle farmers are taking preventative steps now. Greg Myers has a herd of 25 cattle that were in serious danger last spring, his fields were underwater, and cows had to be hauled out to higher ground in Oakes.

“Right now we're just going to wait and see how it melts; hopefully it melts slower than it did last year.”

If he has to, Myers will move his cattle early. No matter what happens, he hopes flooding isn't as bad as last spring.

“I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, it was terrible.”

Anderson says he's nearly finished with calving this season, which will make moving his herd much easier.