SHARECOMMENTMORE

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- Western South Dakota ranchers are reeling from the loss of tens of thousands of cattle in last weekend's blizzard as pits to dispose of the dead animals are set to open Monday.

Heath Ferguson says the storm killed 96 percent of his herd of 100 black Angus and Limousin cattle, a hit worth $250,000. He says total losses topped more than 1,000 head, as six other herds were roaming the family's 16,000 acres east of Sturgis.

Up to 4 feet of snow fell in the Black Hills area last weekend.

Ferguson says the vast majority of ranchers can't afford insurance that covers storm-related damage and the farm bill's Livestock Indemnity Program is in flux because of the federal shutdown. He says ranchers are an independent bunch, but need help.