Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Enrollment

Program Areas

  • Dairy Management
  • Farm Business Management
  • Field Crops
  • Livestock & Small Farms

Enrollment Benefits

  • Telephone / Email Consultations
  • Ag Focus Newsletter
  • Direct Mailings
  • Educational Meetings & Conferences
  • In-Field Educational Opportunities
  • On-Farm Research Trials

Enrollee Login


Log In To Access:

  • Issues of Ag Focus Newsletters
  • Helpful Diagnostic Tool:
      What's wrong with my crop?

Sandhills Calving System - Not Just for Beef

Nancy Glazier, Small Farms & Livestock
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

June 27, 2013

The snow pack is still plenty deep in the pastures, but it's not too early to think about calving, or kidding or lambing. If you have livestock birthing on pastures, think about the Sandhills System. I have a new appreciation for this system after visiting the Sand Hills (both names are used) last fall on the beef tour with Mike Baker, Cornell University beef cattle extension specialist. That part of Nebraska is expansive with rolling hills. There are ample acres to implement this system with low stocking density due to lower yielding land. And the hills are certainly sandy; the tour bus actually got stuck.

The Sandhills calving system separates cow/calf pairs from the rest of the herd. Dr. David Smith, veterinarian, University of Nebraska at Lincoln has done has done research on this. He states the primary reason is to keep the newborns away from the disease-carrying older animals to reduce the risk of scours (diarrhea). This also reduces the pathogen load with fewer animals in the paddock. Scours causes the biggest death loss of calves; they are the most susceptible for the first 2-3 weeks, and then the risk tapers off.

Here are the principles: Pregnant cows are grouped together. After one to two weeks of calving, the pairs stay in the first paddock with the remaining cows moved to a new paddock. After the next week, any cows still pregnant move to another paddock with pairs remaining. This continues on until all calves are born. After the youngest calves are 4 weeks old, the pairs can be recombined into one group.

Our pasture land is not as vast, but the principles of the calving system can be utilized here. Birthing outside in the right location may be healthier than inside a barn. The system requires additional management; paddocks need to be sized to carry the pairs for the expected residency (time period). If pastures are not growing, that means hay needs to be fed. If they are growing that means estimating the forage available for the time period for the number of livestock. Birthing season may be like a lopsided bell curve with a few early births, followed by the majority of the herd, then stragglers. Ideally, fall would be the best time to start planning for this method and leave the pasture area taller at the end of the grazing season for groundcover and possibly feed. The same birthing practices are still needed for healthy newborns.

Prevention is best approach. Vaccinate routinely and maintain adequate nutrition. If you're not ready to attempt this with the whole herd, maybe try this with the heifers. They may have lower antibody levels and poor maternal skills.

If you have questions on this, let me know. I know a producer that utilizes this for his heifers, maybe you could visit his system!











calendar of events

Upcoming Events

2019 Corn Silage Pre-Harvest Workshop - Penn Yan

September 17, 2019
10:00am to Noon
Penn Yan, NY

Corn silage harvest is drawing near. The way corn silage is harvested and stored is a single event that affects your operation for the entire next year. Are you prepared to set your operation up for success? 
view details

Ontario County Fun on the Farm

September 21, 2019
11:00 am- 4:00 pm
Seneca Castle, NY

Fun on the Farm works to educate non-farm public and our neighbors about agriculture around them. It is fun and educational.

Fun on the Farm attracts thousands of people and gives us the opportunity to communicate to the community the benefits of the agricultural production in Ontario County, the state, and the nation.

The event is free! There are many agricultural products that are available to be sampled. It is the perfect place to try that product you have seen in the store but didn't want to commit to purchasing.

Food is available to purchase for lunch. It is provided by a local service group.
view details

Bovine Reproduction and AI Training Course

September 24 - September 25, 2019
9:30am - 3:30pm
Shortsville, NY


This two-day AI workshop will be held on September 24 and 25. 

Topics covered will include:

• Reproductive Physiology
• Synchronization Protocols
• Heat Detection
• Artificial Insemination
• Proper Thawing of Semen
• Loading A.I. guns
• Practice Breeding Cows

view details


Preventing Sexual Harassment on Farms

If you're wondering how to get your farm business in compliance with NYS Sexual Harassment Regulations, you've come to the right place.  The 2018 New York State budget included new regulations addressing sexual harassment in the workplace that became effective on October 9, 2018 for all New York employers, including agricultural employers. All employers are required to have a sexual harassment prevention policy and to provide annual, interactive sexual harassment prevention training for all employees.  Check out the resources developed by Cornell Ag Workforce Development, including step-by-step instructions and farm-friendly training videos.

RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions

June 29, 2019

RMA Announces Additional One-time Changes to Prevented Planting Provisions
for 2019 Crop Year

In response to delayed and prevented planting resulting from above average rainfall and wetness, the USDA Risk Management Agency has made a one-time change to the 2019 crop year prevented planting rules that effectively allows silage corn, if planted as a cover crop following local agricultural expert guidelines, to be acceptable as a post-prevented planting cover crop. Under this one-time rule change, producers are allowed to produce this crop while retaining their prevented planting payment. This change couples with previously announced one-time changes to the prevented planting rules - including expanded acceptable uses for post-prevented planting cover crops and a change in the cover crop haying and grazing start date rule - serve to help those struggling to meet their forage needs due to the weather.

Read the full article from the New York Crop Insurance Education Program.

The USDA-RMA states that "For crop insurance purposes, a cover crop is a crop generally recognized by agricultural experts as agronomically sound for the area for erosion control or other purposes related to conservation or soil improvement." PRO-DAIRY specialists Joe Lawrence and Karl Czymmek and Dr. Quirine Ketterings, Professor and Director of Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program have released a letter stating "Corn on Prevented Planting acres meets these objectives."