Before the Storm: Preparing Livestock for Adverse Weather

— Written By Emily Cope
en Español / em Português

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Hurricane Season began again on June 1st in North Carolina. 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 


  • 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.