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Helmville rancher copes with water shortage

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Posted at 5:50 PM, Jul 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-16 16:18:44-04

HELMVILLE — Ranching and farming are huge commodities of Montana's economy, and with the dry conditions in the state persisting many ranchers are left in a drought for their cattle and crops.

With over 3,000 acres of ranching land, one Helmville rancher says it's in his blood.

“Ranching is a great way to raise a family, a lot of hard work but, a great place to raise kids, and continue the generations, on and on,” said Dan Pocha, a third-generation rancher who has been struggling with finding enough water for 900 head of cattle.

“It's the lifeline, the creeks and the springs, so it’s pretty devastating,” said Pocha.

Pocha says his water table is in dry in their leased land in Winston, and the family-owned ranch is going to use well water to water the cattle in the coming weeks.

“It’s turning into a tough year,” said Pocha.

Water is important for cattle, especially during the intense heat and if those cattle cannot get hydrated it is detrimental.

A University of Georgia publication lists the estimated water requirements for cattle at 90 degrees F is two gallons per 100 pounds of body weight for a growing or lactating animal.

“This year’s calf crop, if you don’t get good water in it, you are losing pounds, and it's costing in about every way possible,” said Pocha.

But even with the dry conditions and continual search for water in the mountains with cattle, Pocha is staying positive.

“But you can’t find mother nature so, we are struggling to do the best we can,” said Pocha.

But through the rough and dry season, Pocha says it's what he must do.

“It’s tough, but that’s why we are ranchers,” said Pocha.