Before the Storm: Preparing Livestock for Adverse Weather

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For North Carolina, Hurricane Season began June 1. Though Stokes County is located fairly far inland, we can still experience severe weather generated from tropical storms and hurricanes. Below are a few reminders to consider when anticipating an extreme weather event.

Establish an Emergency Plan 

It may helpful to include the following in an Emergency Plan:

  • Farm location, farm size, and farm type 
  • People and livestock 
  • Site map: buildings, livestock, water sources, access roads, hazards,  etc.
  • Emergency Contacts: Police and fire departments, veterinarians, and local N.C. Cooperative Extension office 

General Housekeeping 

  • Secure equipment: place large equipment in a covered area or tie down equipment that has the potential to be blown away by strong winds
  • Clear debris from drainage ditches 
  • Remove dead or damaged trees that may be potential risks to fencing/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 

Livestock 

  • Secure animals: move to secure pastures or higher locations. Never leave livestock in closed barns 
  • Partner with others: communicate with other farms for transportation and evacuation needs. Discuss potential biosecurity issues if co-mingling is required 
  • Stock-up: provide sufficient food and water for 48 hours. Fill feed bunks and water troughs  
  • Secure alternative water sources: automatic waterers may not work during power outages. Dirty water can be a source of illness for livestock 

Livestock Identification

  • Ear tags, tattoos, brands
  • Permanent is best
  • Collars and halters: break-away is ideal 
  • Behavior: during disasters animals may be confused, aggressive, or frightened; approach with caution and be patient 

Livestock Emergency Kits 

  • Restraints and identifications: ropes, leads, halters, tagging, branding
  • Food and water: buckets and bins 
  • First-aid medications and supplies: bandages, ointments 

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