Preparing Livestock for Hurricanes
Michael Donalson- Refugio County Extension Agent
With the most active part of the 2013 Hurricane Season approaching, livestock owners and producers need to think about and make necessary preparations. First and foremost make sure you have a plan, for both your family and livestock. You and your family’s safety is the most important thing to remember in the case of a hurricane. After you have considered you and your family’s safety, a plan needs to be developed for your livestock.
Before the threat of a hurricane, an owner must insure that all animals have current immunizations and horses have a current coggins test and make sure to keep a record with you. Furthermore, insure that all livestock have identification (brands or registrations). Experts also suggest taking a picture of your animal with you or a family member in the photo for proof of ownership. Some owners may use small animal trimmers to clip the owner’s phone number on the neck of horses. Also begin preparing a “Disaster Kit” for your livestock. This kit may include but not be limited to basic veterinary supplies, handling equipment (halters, leads, or cages), sanitation supplies, buckets and most important water and feed. How much water needed depends on the species you own. For example, horses need 18 gallons of water a day and cattle can consume 23 gallons, so make sure you know the daily water intake of your animals and prepare accordingly.
One of the hardest decisions for livestock owners to make during an approaching hurricane is whether or not to evacuate livestock. If you choose to not evacuate your livestock, make sure you remove animals from closed barns or structures as damage to the structure could injure or kill livestock. Make sure livestock are turned out in a large pasture with solid shelter or tall brush on high ground.
If you choose to evacuate, make sure you do so no less than 72 hours before the storm makes landfall and make sure to not overcrowd trailers and take plenty of water with you. A list of livestock shelters is available by dialing 2-1-1. Know in advance where you and your livestock will go.
When preparing Youth Livestock Projects, some different considerations should be made for evacuation. Youth who have show broilers, turkeys and swine should not attempt to evacuate their animals. The stress of travel is more than leaving them at home with a three or four day supply of feed and water. However, youth with show horses, beef cattle, goats, rabbits and lambs should evacuate their projects. These animals can handle the stress of travel. Make sure you take plenty of feed and water supplies for these animals.
Finally after the storm has passed, as soon as it is safe, livestock owners should check on the condition of their animals. Be prepared to take feed, water and basic first aid supplies. Make sure you do not feed moldy feed or hay and check the quality of the water. After storms, water quality is always an issue. It is always best to provide clean water if possible. If there is animal loss, dispose of them properly, if possible. Burning of dead animals is not allowed without the permission from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. In cases of natural disaster, this may be waived.
For more information contact the Refugio County Office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension at 361-526-2825 or you can visit the Texas Extension Disaster Educational Network at http://texashelp.tamu.edu/