5 Tips for Protecting Livestock During a Disaster

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The plans you put into place before a disaster are essential to how you can respond in the moment and how you recover afterwards. It’s important to plan not just for you and your family, but also for your pets, farm animals and livestock. 

Here are five steps you can take to make sure you have a plan in case of a disaster.

1: Know about different types of emergencies

In addition to severe disasters like hurricanes and flooding, conditions such as drought and extreme cold or heat are day-to-day health and safety concerns for animals under your care. You never want to be caught off-guard.

Knowing the types of emergencies that could happen where you live and whether you need to make any specific preparations for them is an important first step to take.

You can download the FEMA app to learn more about different types of hazards and to receive alerts when your area is affected by one.

2: Get an emergency kit

Your animals need an emergency kit just like you do. Here’s some items you should consider:

  • Feed and water.
  • Supplements.
  • Veterinary records.
  • Proof of ownership.
  • Supplies such as rope, halters, cleaning supplies, knives, etc.

You should review the kit regularly to ensure the contents are fresh.

3: Plan for evacuations

During a disaster, officials may tell you to evacuate. Depending on the disaster and the stability of the shelter you have for your livestock, you may need to evacuate them.

First, determine where you will go. Do you have friends or relatives who are capable of housing livestock during the disaster? You can also consider fairgrounds or other livestock evacuation locations. Another thing you will need to do ahead of time is arrange how livestock will be transported.

4: Plan for leaving livestock behind

If you have no way to evacuate your livestock, there are some steps you can take to keep them safe.

  • Identification. Make sure each animal has a form of identification such as a microchip, ear/leg tag, brand, etc.
  • Build a strong shelter. Make sure you have a sturdy shelter that can protect them from the elements. It should be able to sustain high winds and heavy rains and keep them all dry. Consider building it on high ground to avoid flooding.
  • Have adequate food and water. You may not be able to reach your livestock for days depending on damage to the surrounding area. You should provide them with plenty of food and a steady supply of water to sustain them for several days.
  • Provide warm bedding. During extreme cold or heavy rain, each animal needs warm, dry bedding.
  • Provide cooling options. During excessive heat, you want to make sure animals can access shade and have enough water to drink. Other options include leaving barn doors open, installing fans or using sprinklers.

5: Know where to go for help

If you are not home when a disaster occurs, it’s important to have a designated neighbor who can tend to your livestock, knows your evacuation procedure, knows where your emergency kit is and has your emergency contact information available.

Remember to contact local officials if you need assistance. During a disaster, teams such as the National Animal Health Emergency Response Corps have teams specializing in responding to disease outbreaks and other disasters that affect livestock, poultry, companion animals and wildlife.

While protecting your livestock and farm animals depends on the weather event, having a plan in place will go a long way in keeping them safe.

For more information on how you can prepare pets, large animals or livestock for a disaster, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture website or Prepare Your Pets for Disasters | Ready.gov.

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