Hurricane Prep for Livestock
Since hurricane season started June 1st and continues throughout the summer, I thought now was the perfect time to talk about hurricane preparedness and livestock. These recommendations apply to any and all animal species you may have.
The first step is to make sure your animals (livestock and companion) are up to date on all vaccines. For cattle this means IBR, BVD, Lepto and Blackleg just to name a few. For sheep and goats it is important that they are current for tetanus and enterotoxemia (clostridial) vaccines. Horses should be current on all influenza, EEE, tetanus, rabies, and West Nile vaccines as well as having a current negative Coggins test. Most swine integrators have specific vaccines required by company veterinarians but for those of you who may have hogs on the ground, E. coli, influenza, parvovirus, and leptovirus are vital things to vaccinate for.
Make sure your barns and pastures are prepared for stormy weather. Repair any loose boards, frames, and anything else that could break and cause harm to your animals. Keep a supply of feed, water and first aid supplies on hand for the entire duration of storm season. If possible, allow your animals to be in a large open pasture with some shelter. Confining them to a barn or small pasture limits their ability to escape danger or flying debris.
Do not check on your animals during a storm, you are no help to them if you get injured. Immediately after the storm, check all pastures and animals for injury or damage. Be sure that animals have access to clean food and water and all injuries are treated immediately. Check that mineral feeders have not been exposed to the elements and are not hardened, it doesn’t do your cattle any good to have it out there if they can’t/won’t eat it. Check your electric fence power after a storm to be sure it is operational.
Another important thing to remember after a large storm is that forage poisoning is a possibility. Flying debris may have covered extensive ranges and could bring harmful leaves or acorns into your pastures that had not previously been present. Wilted cherry leaves are toxic to most livestock species at high volumes; double check your pastures that these leaves have not filtered into your pastures and that your animals do not have access to them! Acorn poisoning is another possibility; although not likely, an increased consumption of green acorns that may have been knocked down by a storm can harm livestock. Patrol your pastures immediately after the storm to check your animals’ exposure to dangerous feedstuffs.
One last reminder is for those with large swine operations; make sure you pay attention to the rules and regulations of your permit. It will direct you on the appropriate measures to take before and after a large hurricane or tropical system!
As a livestock owner it is your responsibility to take care of your animals. These were just a few tips to protect your livestock as we enter hurricane season.