Gann Valley driest it’s been in nearly 50 years


BUFFALO COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — As KELOLAND News continues team coverage of the drought, we take you to perhaps one of the driest parts of South Dakota where some long time ranchers say they haven’t seen it this bad in nearly 50 years.

“We have two big problems,” rancher Randy Knippling said.

Those problems, Gann Valley rancher Randy Knippling says, are lack of water and food for his livestock. Many haven’t seen it this bad since 1976.

“This is normally a water source for this pasture,” Knippling said.

But as you can see, there’s no water here.

“Most of our dams are either dry or so low the water quality is so poor,” Knippling said.

That’s an added concern. One of his neighbors just lost several cattle after drinking stagnant algae contaminated water.

The dry conditions are something Knippling has been dealing with for years.

“This isn’t my first rodeo at this, I guess, every year its dry we’ve added pipeline or tanks to pastures like this,” Knippling said. “We try to get water to every pasture besides dams and dugouts so we can make it through something like this.”

Feed is the other big concern. Because the pastures are so dry, Knippling says you are forced to make difficult decisions.

“That’s one of the tough parts of this year, we decided to hay our winter wheat because we needed the feed and we weren’t sure the wheat was going to fill in 30 mph winds and 100 degree days,” Knippling said.

But Knippling knows, making tough decisions is part of being a rancher.

“It’s where God put me so I’m making the best of it I guess,” Knippling said.

Knippling says those pipelines he talked about are hooked into rural water and wells in the area, so that’s made a big difference.

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