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Snowstorms bring days of preparation for ranchers

Posted at 10:56 PM, Oct 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-24 05:56:09-04

EL PASO COUNTY — When your livelihood is at the mercy of the weather, incoming snowstorms are nothing to mess with.

Mayra Baltazer, a board member for the Colorado Horse Rescue Network, described the feelings for livestock owners with snow headed for El Paso County Wednesday.

"It's honestly a little nerve-racking," Baltazer said.

It's why the network, led by Executive Director Carrie Terroux-Barrett, takes preparations seriously.

"We've got 60 or 100 other animals we need to make sure we are going to be able to take this cold weather," Terroux-Barrett said.

They've also been through this before. News 5 was there when snow drifts nearly topped cattle fences at the ranch in eastern El Paso County.

In the hours and days leading up to expected snowfall, Terroux-Barrett and company criss-cross the ranch ensuring every animal has enough to eat and drink. That includes horses, calves and everything in between.

"We gotta make sure that everybody's got a lot of hay put in front of them, because that's how most of these livestock animals stay warm, is by eating hay," Terroux-Barrett said.

The animals also seek protection from the wind. Horses ran in from open fields toward barns and other manmade wind blocks.

In addition, staff put blankets on the older or sick horses to keep them warm.

Either way, ranch hands work around the clock to ensure their livestock are taken care of — both before and after the storm.

"It's your livelihood. If you lose a cow, that's quite a bit. Wehther that's going in your freezer or that's going in the bank, either way, you're going to lose out, so you definitely want to prep them," Baltazar said.

Terroux-Barrett said horses eat between 25 and 50 percent more than their normal diet to stay warm in the winter months. To keep up with that demand, she said they work through a semi load of hay in about six weeks.

If you're interested in helping the Colorado Horse Rescue Network, click this link for more information.