UPDATE: See reports on the 2019 blizzard in Colorado. The following story is from 2017.

SPRINGFIELD, Colo. (CBS4) – Ranchers are dealing with a big problem from this past weekend’s blizzard in southeastern Colorado. The snowstorm killed thousands of cattle.

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“They’ll actually drown in the snow. The snow will get up in their lungs,” said Prowers County rancher Justin Willhite, who lost a third of his cattle.

Seven foot high snow drifts buried cows and toppled acres of wheat crops in Prowers County and Baca County near the Kansas and Oklahoma borders, costing farmers millions of dollars.

There are no confirmed numbers yet, but it’s estimated as many as 10,000 cattle were killed in the rare spring storm.

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(credit: Austin Schroder)

After the storm dumped 30 inches of snow in some areas, the damage is compared to the blizzard of 2007, which was one of the worst snowstorms in state history.

“All those small communities, they depend on the farmers and ranchers to support their communities, to support jobs in their communities, so the effects could be really dire,” said Colorado Farm Bureau spokesman Chad Vorthmann.

(credit: Colorado Farm Bureau)

The Colorado Farm Bureau has activated its disaster relief fund and they are seeking donations on a special PayPal website.

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Ranchers are sharing their brands on Facebook in hopes of finding surviving cattle.