Forecast tool can help protect newborns during calving season


As we get deeper into the month of March, we enter the height of calving season in western Montana and across the northern plains. With the large variations in weather we experience this time of year, newborn calves can be exposed to some of the worst that mother nature has to offer.

It turns out for those in southwest, central, and eastern Montana, there's a tool to let ranchers know when the worst conditions will occur for those newborns.

The Cold Advisory for Newborn Livestock (CANL) is made by the National Weather Service. You can find six-hour forecasts for southwest and north-central Montana here. CANL is not issued west of the divide, but its criteria can still help ranchers know what conditions to watch for.

The combination of wind chill and precipitation is the most dangerous for newborn calves. A wind chill of only 33 degrees with light to moderate precipitation (0.05 inches in 2 hours) is classified as Severe in the CANL system. Subzero wind chill for more than two hours is also classified in the highest categories of Severe or Extreme.

Newborn calves are defined as less than 24 hours old in the CANL system.

CANL was developed by the Glasgow office of the National Weather Service in cooperation with the University of Miami and University of Delaware. The program was developed in 2008 and 2009 and began being used in Montana and North Dakota in 2010.