For Ryan Akins, dairy farming is hereditary.

"I'm a dairy farmer, operator and owner here at Five Mile Farm. My father and grandfather are part of the business and I'm seventh generation, so it's been around for a long time," said Akins.

Staying ahead of the curve, along with prioritizing calf health, are likely reasons for his farm's longevity.

"We're always upgrading and looking for the newest and the best thing," said Akins. 

"I love calves. A lot of my Ph.D research was focusing on calf management," said Cornell Cooperative Extension Dairy Specialist Dr. Kimberely Morrill.

Akins is working with Morrill to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to calf health. His farm is one of 27 working with Cornell Cooperative Extension.

"Really well managed farms, they're doing everything by the book and they're having some calf health challenges," said Dr. Morrill.

Dairy specialists like Morrill have spent the last year evaluating how farmers can improve the health of calves, especially in cold-temperature regions like Northern New York.

"Unfortunately, we can have calves that get hypothermia; frost bite can happen, so if we don't take precautions, we can have those challenges," Morrill said.

Combating these challenges include feeding calves extra calories.

The specialists provided individualized recommendations to each farm to keep the business running and the lives of these calves long.

"You put the money in when they're younger, and you'll get it back when they're older," said Akins.