Do you know how to protect your farm animals from risks posed by natural disasters, including collapsed barns, freezing weather, flooding and dehydration? From barn fires to hazardous materials spills to natural disasters, emergency situations often call for special measures to shelter, care for, or transport farm pets, livestock, and poultry. |
Safeguard your animals, your property and your business by taking precautions now, no matter what the risks are in your area. Additional information and assistance can be provided by your veterinarian. Guidelines for Safe Shelter and Evacuation
Unconfined livestock can usually take care of themselves during floods. Do not let them become trapped in low-lying pens. A number of safety precautions, as outlined at right, can be taken for animals housed in barns during a flood. Above all, be sure animals are evacuated before floodwaters enter barns and other enclosed livestock areas. Animals sometimes refuse to leave during a rapid rise of water and may drown. Keeping Livestock High and Dry
In broad, level flood plains where floodwaters are seldom deeper than 3 or 4 feet, you may need to construct mounds of soil on which livestock can stay until floodwaters recede. Try to locate the mounds where they will not be washed away by fast-flowing water. Think Essentials, Safety in Barns
Provide feed and water. Water is essential. Thirsty animals will try to break out to get to floodwaters. If clean water is in short supply, limit feed intake.
If animals are housed with machinery, fasten bales of straw in front of sharp edges and protruding parts such as cutter bars or crank handles. (Do not use hay, because animals will eat it.) Try to cover wooden paddle wheels on combines or choppers, since these parts can be dangerous.
Block off narrow passageways where animals would be unable to turn around. A few heavy animals in a narrow dead end can be dangerous both to themselves and the building.
Be absolutely certain that herbicides, pesticides and treated seeds are not even remotely accessible to livestock, and are stored where floodwater will not contaminate livestock feed or water.
Turn off electricity at the main switch. Livestock could damage electric fixtures, causing fires or electrocutions.
If there is a possibility that dairy barns may become inundated, drive cattle out of the barn. During rapid rise of water, cattle often refuse to leave the barn and may drown inside if the water rises high enough. For this reason, begin evacuation measures before a state of emergency. Plan to evacuate
Contact your local emergency management authority and become familiar with at least two possible evacuation routes. Familiarize all family members and employees with your evacuation plans. Arrange in advance for a place to shelter your animals. Plan ahead and work within your community to establish safe shelters for farm animals, such as fairgrounds, other farms, racetracks, and exhibition centers. Ensure that sufficient feed and medical supplies are available at the destination. Be ready to leave as soon as an evacuation is ordered. In a slowly evolving emergency, like a hurricane, plan to evacuate at least 72 hours before anticipated landfall, especially if you will be hauling a high profile trailer such as a horse trailer. It may not be possible to evacuate heavy loads safely in high winds. Also, once the emergency hits roads may be restricted to emergency service vehicles and not open to traffic. Set up safe transportation. You will need to have access to trucks, trailers, and other vehicles suitable for transporting each type of animal, along with experienced handlers and drivers. You may need access to a portable loading ramp to load, or unload, animals. If animals are evacuated to a centralized location such as a fair grounds for shelter and will co-mingle with other animals of unknown health status try to: Make sure your animals have sufficient identification (e.g. ear tags or brands) to be able to tell them apart from others. minimize the contact among animals from different premises. protect feed and water from contact with wild animals and birds. Verify the health and vaccination status of animals which must be co-mingled. handle any mortalities in a manner to minimize the possible spread of contagious diseases. monitor the health and well being of the animals on a daily basis, whether sheltered in place or evacuated. Seek appropriate veterinary medical advice and services on suspicion of an animal disease problem. Accommodation will need to include milking equipment for dairy cows (as applicable). Milk may need to be stored separately from cows of other herds. Milk "pickup" companies should be notified where to pick up the milk.
Whether you evacuate or shelter in place, make sure that you have adequate and safe fencing or pens to separate and group animals appropriately.
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