Open heifers eat a total mixed ration on a cold, rainy day Jan. 27 at the Bichler ranch in Linton, N.D. During cold snaps, having proper nutrition for cattle is especially important.

LINTON, N.D. – The heart of the 2018-19 winter brought consistent snowfalls to the southcentral region of North Dakota.

“We probably got a few inches last night (Jan. 20), I suppose,” Doug Bichler said. “I always say anything is too much, because I hate snow. It’s just a lot of extra work when you have cattle for sure.”

Growing up in the region, Bichler does not remember seeing the amount of eastern winds that affect the area today. These perceived changes have led to further difficulty based on how the majority of the state designs their feedlots.

“If you look at a lot of the feedlots in the state, they’re not set up to protect against these southeast winds,” he said. “I feel like these eastern winds are almost prevalent now. We always used to deal with northern or western winds, and when you look at all the windbreaks and protection that’s set up in the state, the feedlots are all protected from the north and west, but very few of us have protection from the south and the east. I do think these wind patterns have really shifted since I’ve been younger. I don’t remember east winds, really ever from what I remember.”

Winter storms like this force livestock producers to change things up in order to make sure their livestock are safe and protected.

“You have to make sure they all have bedding and a dry place to lay so they can insulate themselves when it’s cold like this,” Doug said. “We feed in a feedlot setting, so our bunks are blown shut every morning with this wind, and with the snow we have to clean all that up before we can even feed. The cattle are also hungry so we have to feed extra. It’s just a long process. What usually takes 4-5 hours for chores takes us all day to make sure these cattle are all OK before we can go in the house and think about ourselves.”

It is not only the snow or the cold, but it is the temperature swings this time of year that are tough on the cattle.

“As nice as the nicer days are, and as nice as it is to get a break when the weather is a bit warmer, it’s not nice for the cattle,” he said. “These drastic swings are really hard on their systems. You go from 30 degrees one day to zero the next, and when you have these wind chills, it’s really hard on them.”

The Bichlers annual production sale is fast approaching as well, and Doug said they have all their auction videos completed and available online at The sale catalog is still being developed, but Doug said they are hoping to have that done shortly and off to the printers.

“We’ve been kind of running behind on the catalog because I was waiting on some DNA results to show up that are valuable for my customers to make decisions, but we should still get them out in time,” he said. “We’ll have a link on our website once the catalog is completed. Otherwise we’re just trying to get ready for the sale and deal with these temperatures swings. We’re busy keeping the cattle healthy and warm. That’s our main goal right now.”