When Miles City rancher Ty Linger heard about the extensive cattle deaths that an early-season blizzard caused in South Dakota, he decided he should do something more than just shake his head. He isn’t much of a Facebook person, but Linger posted a message online about his desire to donate a quality heifer to a rancher whose herd was affected. He didn’t set out to create a nationwide effort, but with help from his wife, Rosalie, that's exactly what he did.
His single donation grew into a multiple-state effort called “Heifers for S. Dakota.” As of the last week in October, close to 500 head had been donated by ranchers in 10 states. In addition to the animals themselves, Linger also has received offers from truckers to take the animals to their new homes, and monetary donations to help pay for fuel. Veterinarians and brand inspectors have been volunteering in their home states to make sure all the paperwork and vaccinations are up to date.
Linger wanted to be sure that these were quality animals, so he asked everyone to donate only their best. Some producers took that as a challenge. One from the Broadus area asked some folks who judged livestock at county and regional fairs to come and help him pick out his very best animal to donate.
Anyone interested in donating can contact Linger by phone at 406-853-3318 or visit the Facebook page Heifers for S. Dakota. Linger and his friends have partnered with North Central Resource Conservation and Development Association, which is a licensed 501(c)3 non-profit. This permits a secure online method of making cash donations.
On Saturday, Nov. 2, a fundraiser to help pay shipping costs will be held at the Bison Bar, with a chili feed beginning at 5 p.m. and a silent auction from 7 to 11 p.m. There will also be celebrity bartenders including professional rodeo riders and musicians. All of their tips will be donated.
Linger is aiming to get cattle in the hands of younger producers, who may not have the equity to survive a major loss. He expects to provide for those “who are going to stay in,” to make sure that the donations have a lasting impact. A committee in South Dakota has been set up to collect names and information on those who wish to receive the donations.
They are not restricting numbers, breeds or calving dates in accepting a donation. They will arrange with the South Dakota ranchers to match desired animals to the ranchers.
The animals will be collected in convenient locations for consolidation before shipping to South Dakota. Some will be coming through Miles City in November. Shipments will be timed to the requests of producers in South Dakota.
By spring, there will be new calves in South Dakota, provided by Ty Linger and his generous idea.