One Billion Dollars a Year: Mitigating Livestock Losses with the Cold Advisory for Newborn Livestock

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014: 9:30 AM
Room C202 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Tanja Fransen, NOAA/NWS, Glasgow, MT; and K. L. Frank, W. J. Martin, and L. Kalkstein

The mission of the National Weather Service includes the protection of life and property. When people think of property, it's generally in the sense of infrastructure, homes, businesses or vehicles. But, for much of rural America, livestock represent a huge part of the property people have to manage, and weather has a tremendous impact in that area.

The USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service reported that, in 2010, U.S. cattle and calf losses that could be directly attributed to weather totaled $274.1 million dollars. Weather also indirectly leads to economic losses by exacerbating respiratory and calving problems--not an insignificant concern for livestock producers. Altogether, the direct and indirect weather-related losses in 2010 alone could have neared $1.2 billion.

It is clear that weather does not affect all animals in the same way. According to the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service, in Montana, where this system was originally developed, the percentage of cattle loss directly due to weather in 2010 was 9.7%. However, the percentage loss of calves due to weather was 27.1%. In fact, weather is the number one non-predatory loss of calves in Alabama, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming. In another 6 states, weather was the 2nd highest cause of non-predatory deaths. The increased vulnerability of newborn livestock due to weather is the reason the Cold Advisory for Newborn Livestock (CANL) was developed. Newborn livestock are not acclimated to the environment they are born into, and until they are dried off, warmed up, and their delicate systems develop appropriate bio-thermal responses (in about 24 hours) there is increased risk for them to succumb to hazardous weather.

In 2008, the NWS in Glasgow developed the CANL after smaller research projects through WAS*IS (Weather and Society*Integrated Studies) and through the COMET Partnership Program identified the cold weather impacts to livestock in our area. Research and continual discussion with the ranching community showed that the key elements of concern included wind chill, accumulating precipitation, and the ability for the animal to dry off (sun vs. clouds). This presentation will look at the origins of the CANL system, and the operational and experimental status of the program throughout the U.S. and how the data is being utilized and disseminated.