Ranchers in South Dakota are not holding out any hope for US government assistance after extreme blizzard conditions wiped out thousands of cattle.

Very early winter storms have wreaked havoc across the west of South Dakota, with estimates of cattle losses as high as one hundred thousand animals.

Rancher Brent Thiel says the losses are financially and emotionally devastating and ranchers are still finding stock, both dead and alive.

"I suspect that the high percentage of ranchers in South Dakota are going to do what they always do and kind of just get on with it and make the best of it.

"But there's going to be some heartache here.

"Our Federal Government is kind of in disarray, and so I don't look for any livestock indemnity program coming from the Federal Government at this point."