2018 Hurricane Prep

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As I sit in my office with the rain pouring outside the window, I realize that hurricane season is almost here. In fact, it begins June 1 and lasts until November 30. Obviously, storms can happen outside of those dates (hello Tropical Storm Alberto) but it’s important to be especially aware and proactive during the summer months. In eastern NC that means making sure you, your homes and barns, and your livestock are prepared.

The National Hurricane Center, part of NOAA, is predicting 10-16 named storms, 5-9 hurricanes, and 1-4 major hurricanes for the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season. They will update these numbers in August, but everything is pointing towards a near or above normal season for us this year.

Make sure your pets and livestock are up to date on vaccines. If they must be moved or transported somewhere to avoid storms, it is imperative that they are healthy and up to date on everything. Animals are susceptible to flying debris, flooding and exposure to severe weather just like we are. If you can’t evacuate your large livestock, you should turn them out into larger pastures or pens on higher ground; never leave them in a closed barn because their chance of escape is very slim if something were to happen. Keep a copy of animal inventory and expense records, if you lose animals you may need these for insurance purposes.

Have enough livestock feed on hand for a week and the same amount of water, this is particularly important because you don’t know how the long the storm itself will last or how long you will feel the effects of the aftermath. Beef cattle and horses need 5-15 gallons of water per day and 15-30 lbs of feed (hay) per day. For our smaller livestock, like sheep and goats, they need 1-2 gallons of water per day and 1-5 lbs of feed per day.

Keep trucks, tractors and equipment fueled and in good working condition. Check fencing and keep it in good repair throughout the year. After the storm, make sure you do not put yourself at risk checking livestock, be sure that the storm has fully moved on before checking. Inspect the entire fence line for damage and repair it as soon as possible. Clean up trash, debris, and any damaged equipment.

The North Carolina Department ofAgriculture & Consumer Services has a lot of helpful information regarding storm preparation and livestock care. It even has an example emergency plan in case you are at a loss on where to begin. As always, feel free to call the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Wayne County office at (919) 731-1525 with any livestock, forage, or nutrient management questions.