Adverse Weather Preparedness for Livestock

— Written By Emily Cope and last updated by
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Adverse weather events can occur during any season. As livestock owners, it is wise to have an Adverse Weather Plan in place before being caught in the storm. Below are a few recommendations to consider incorporating into your plans.

Establish an Emergency Plan

  • Farm location, farm size, and farm type.
  • People and livestock – who lives on the farm and what type of livestock do you have.
  • Site map: buildings, livestock, water sources, access roads, hazards, etc.
  • Emergency contacts: local N.C. Cooperative Extension office, police and fire departments, veterinarians.

General Housekeeping

  • Secure equipment: place large equipment in a covered area or tie-down.
  • Clear debris from drainage ditches.
  • Remove dead or damaged trees that may be potential risks to fencing and buildings.
  • Keep livestock barns, gates, and fencing in good repair.
  • Prepare farm vehicles and machinery: gasoline and oil.
  • Stay connected with local emergency and management agencies.

Taking Stock 

  • Take farm inventory – livestock and equipment.
  • Regularly review insurance policies.


  • Secure animals – move to secure pastures or higher locations if flooding is a concern. Never leave livestock in a closed barn.
  • Partner with other farms – communicate with other farms for transportation or evacuation needs. Discuss potential biosecurity issues if co-mingling livestock is required.
  • Stock-up – provide sufficient food and water for 48 hours. Fill feed bunks and water troughs.
  • Secure alternate water sources – automatic waterers may not work during power outages. Dirty water can be a source of illness for livestock.
  • Livestock identification – permanent is best (tattoos or brands), but ear tags are better than no identification at all.
  • Collars or halters – break-away is ideal.
  • Behavior – during disasters animals may be confused, aggressive, or frightened. Always approach livestock with caution and be patient.

Livestock Emergency Kits

  • Restraints and identification – ropes, lead lines, halters, tagging, or branding supplies.
  • Food and water – buckets and bins.
  • First-aid medications and supplies.

Remember, animal lives are important, but human safety is most important. Do not take unnecessary risks during or after a storm to check livestock.