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Using Weather Forecasts for Newborn Calf Health

Categorized: Livestock, Beef, Dairy

BROOKINGS,S.D. - Calving during a winter season with extreme weather swings can be concerning when caring for newborn livestock. The Cold Advisory for Newborn Livestock (CANL) forecast at the Aberdeen National Weather Service website can be a useful tool for livestock producers when preparing for new newborn calves, in particular in the first 24 hours.

"During the month of January, we saw air temperatures as low as negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit and then there were highs of more than 50 degrees," said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension State Climatologist. "The CANL tool was designed to help livestock producers prepare for extreme cold temperatures."

Created with input from Northern U.S. ranchers, experts in animal science and those who study biological responses to extreme weather conditions, the CANL forecast takes into account five factors:

  • Wind chill; 
  • Rain or wet snow; 
  • High humidity; 
  • Combinations of wind chill and precipitation; and
  • Sunshine vs. cloudy days. 

"As a result, it is a science-based method to combine several weather factors together to determine the hazardous weather risk to your newborn calves," Edwards explained.

Visit the CANL website to access the tools.

Risk Scale
When viewing CANL producers will see a six-category scale (Figure 1) which was developed to identify the risk of hazardous conditions for newborn livestock, ranging from None (green color) to Extreme (red color).

The categories are described as:

  • None: Wind chill above 41 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Slight: Wind chill less than 41 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 or more hours
  • Mild: Wind chill less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 or more hours
  • Moderate: Wind chill less than 0 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 or more hours or Wind Chill less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit and .02-inches precipitation
  • Severe: Wind Chill of -9 degrees Fahrenheit or colder for two or more hours, or wind chill of less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit and .05-inches of precipitation
  • Extreme: Wind chill of -18 degrees Fahrenheit or colder for two or more hours, or wind chill less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit and .1-inches of precipitation

Forecast Map
These risk categories are displayed on a map of Northeastern South Dakota, and they are updated at least once-per-day.

An example of the CANL forecast map looks like the map in Figure 2. This map for February 13, 2018, shows mild risk in green, moderate in yellow over most of the region, and an area of Severe risk in orange in the north central counties.

A visit to the CANL website will also display the 30-hour forecasts for wind chill, total precipitation and sky cover (cloudy vs. clear).

The CANL and related maps are only available for regions in Montana, North Dakota and Northeastern South Dakota.

six-category risk scale
Figure 1. Six-category scale to identify the risk of hazardous conditions for newborn livestock. Courtesy: CANL
 


Figure 2. Example of the CANL forecast map hazard areas in S.D. Courtesy: CANL
 

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