When the forecast calls for several inches – or feet – of snow, providing our cattle with the basics of food, water and a comfortable place to rest gets a bit more complicated.
At Boise Valley Feeders in Parma, ID the yard crew beds pens with over six thousand dollars worth of straw per day to help keep cattle comfortable and dry. Pen riders trade horses for four wheelers while cautiously navigating ice-covered paths to check animal health. At times they may need to walk the pens on foot. An impromptu team from nearly every department helps pull stranded commodity trucks out of the snow and muck.
Throughout our operations, we have a mentality of finding a solution no matter the challenge. As record snowfalls and winter weather closed roads, shut down businesses, and caused damage across the Pacific Northwest, our feed yard teams were put to the test.
“This winter was a reminder of how critical it is to be prepared and how much we rely on one another to keep cattle healthy and comfortable,” said Hannah Malson, with Boise Valley Feeders. “Most of our team has worked here since we opened the feed yard in 1996, so we know what to expect in the winter months and are used to operating in challenging conditions. Everyone pitched in wherever there was a need.”
That teamwork extended into the community, as one of the feed yard’s local corn farmers also drives a snowplow for the county. He helped ensure the road that dead ends at the yard was the cleanest in the county throughout the winter, helping alleviate one concern.
“Fortunately cattle are able to keep warm on even the coldest of Northwest days, but we still take extra measures to keep them as comfortable as possible in these conditions,” continued Hannah. “We relied on emergency rations when trucks couldn’t deliver or vitamins and mineral supplements froze, we used heaters to keep the medicine from freezing and our mill operational, and solved each challenge through a lot of teamwork.”
During a winter that added a few more curveballs than most, this meant adjusting to the weather. Between providing mounds of extra straw in the pen, ensuring steady access to water, and maintaining fences constantly, the team might be graveling roads and adjusting shipping schedules for upcoming condition changes.
“It goes back to the passion we have for raising cattle and for helping one another,” said Malson. “Combining that with the experience of our team, we can handle whatever winter decides to throw our way.”
The weight of excessive snowfall damaged multiple areas at Boise Valley Feeders this winter: