Preparing for Hurricane Season

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With the first tropical storm of the season hitting July 4th weekend, I hope you have a plan in place for evacuation and the safety of your family but here’s the million dollar question: is your livestock ready?

The first step in preparing your animals is to be sure they are up-to-date on all vaccinations. This applies to both livestock and companion animals; the most common livestock vaccines are listed below.

  • Cattle:  IBR, BVD, PI3, BRSV, Leptospirosis, H. Somnus, Blackleg
  • Goats/Sheep:  Tetanus, Enterotoxemia (clostridial)
  • Hogs:  E. coli, Clostridial, swine influenza, parvovirus, leptovirus (swine integrators often have their own vaccination program, set by the company  veterinarian) 
  • Horses: Influenza, Rhinopneumonitis, Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE), tetanus, rabies, strangles, West Nile Virus, and a current (yearly) negative Coggins Test for Equine Infectious Anemia

The second step is preparing your farm and/or facilities. Install a hand pump in your well, take down and secure everything you possibly can, move vehicles and livestock trailers to the middle of an open field and tie them down, and keep a supply of feed, hay, water, and first aid items on hand. You never know what you might need so items like two-liter bottles of water, halters/rope, bandages, topical ointments, wire cutters, tool box, etc. may all come in handy during or after the hurricane.

Make sure all animals have a permanent form of ID and turn them out in the large pastures (so they have a chance to avoid flying debris). Prior to the storm, turn off the electricity at the main breaker to avoid possible electrocutions or fires. Do not check on your animals during the storm; if you are hurt, you can not help your animals. After the storm, be sure to check hay and water for mold and quality before feeding. Water quality is often an issue following a hurricane.

For some farmers and operators out there, there may be another added worry; that of making sure you follow your permit requirements.

Condition II.22, in part, reads:

Land application of waste is prohibited during precipitation events. The Permittee shall consider pending weather conditions in making the decision to land apply waste and shall document the weather conditions at the time of land application on forms supplied by or approved by the Division.

Land application of waste shall cease within four (4) hours of the time that the National Weather Service issues a Hurricane Warning, Tropical Storm Warning, or a Flood Watch associated with a tropical system including a hurricane, tropical storm, or tropical depression for the county in which the permitted facility is located.  Watches and warnings are posted on the National Weather Service’s website located at: More detailed website information can be found on Page 2 of the Certificate of Coverage. Watch and warning information can also be obtained by calling the local National Weather Service Office that serves the respective county, which can be found on Page 2 of the Certificate of Coverage.

Stefani Garbacik is a Livestock and Forage Extension Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. If you need any further assistance or have questions about hurricane preparedness or emergency shelter, please contact her at or (919) 731-1525.