Transporting livestock animals to safety when disaster strikes can be difficult. Disaster preparedness is important for all animals, but it is particularly important for livestock because of the animals’ size and the requirements needed to shelter and transport them. If you think that disasters happen only if you live in a flood plain, forest fire zone, or near an earthquake fault line you may be tragically mistaken. Disasters can happen anywhere and include barn fires, blizzards, tornadoes, hazardous material spills, propane line explosions, and train derailments, all of which may necessitate evacuation. It is imperative that you be prepared to protect your livestock, whether by evacuating or by sheltering in place.
- Make a disaster plan to protect your property, facilities, and animals. Create a list of emergency telephone numbers, including those of your employees, neighbors, veterinarian, state veterinarian, poison control, local animal shelter, animal care and control, county extension service, local agricultural schools, trailering resources, and local volunteers.
- Include a contact person outside the disaster area. Make sure all this information is written down and that everyone has a copy.
- Make sure every animal has durable and visible identification.
- Ensure that poultry have access to high areas in which to perch if they are in a flood-prone area, as well as access to food and clean water.
- Reinforce your house, barn, and outbuildings with hurricane straps and other measures. Perform regular safety checks on all utilities, buildings, and facilities on your farm.
- Use only native and deep-rooted plants and trees in landscaping; non-native plants are less durable and hardy in your climate and may become dislodged by high winds or broken by ice and snow.
- Remove all barbed wire, and consider rerouting permanent fencing so that animals may move to high ground in a flood and to low-lying areas in high-wind events.
- Install a hand pump and obtain enough large containers to water your animals for at least a week (municipal water supplies and wells are often contaminated during a disaster.)
- Identify alternate water and power sources. A generator with a safely stored supply of fuel may be essential, especially if you have electrical equipment necessary to the well-being of your animals.
- Secure or remove anything that could become blowing debris; make a habit of securing trailers, propane tanks, and other large objects. If you have boats, feed troughs, or other large containers, fill them with water before any high-wind event.
- If you use heat lamps or other electrical machinery, make sure the wiring is safe and that any heat source is clear of flammable debris.
- Label hazardous materials and place them all in the same safe area.
- Provide local fire, rescue, and emergency management authorities with information about the location of any hazardous materials on your property.
- Remove old buried trash—a potential source of hazardous materials during flooding that may leech into crops, feed supplies, water sources, and pasture.
- Review and update your disaster plan, supplies, and information regularly.
Farm Disaster Kit
Make a disaster kit so you have supplies on hand in the event of a disaster. Place the kit in a central location and let everyone know where it is. Check the contents regularly to ensure fresh and complete supplies. Include the following items, then add items that you use every day:
- Current list of all animals, including their location and records of feeding, vaccinations, and tests. Make this information available at various locations on the farm. Make sure that you have proof of ownership for all animals.
- Supplies for temporary identification of your animals, such as plastic neckbands and permanent markers to label your animals with your name, address, and telephone number.
- Livestock first aid kit.
- Handling equipment such as halters, cages, and appropriate tools for each kind of animal.
- Water, feed, and buckets. Tools and supplies needed for sanitation.
- Disaster equipment such as a cell phone, flashlights, portable radios, and batteries.
- Other safety and emergency items for your vehicles and trailers.
- Food, water, and disaster supplies for your family.
- Your local humane organization, agricultural extension agent, or local emergency management agency may be able to provide you with information about your community’s disaster response plans.
This information is provided by The Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS)