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Equine care checklist: before and after the storm

Equine care checklist: before and after the storm with UF/IFAS Extension equine specialist, Carissa Wickens

Before the storm

Pasture vs. barn

  • Depending on the shelter or structures available, horses are often best kept out at pasture during a storm.
      • Keeping horses indoors is only recommended if you can confirm the structure was built to withstand hurricane-force winds. If structures are compromised in the storm, horses can be trapped inside which can lead to serious injury or death.
  • If you are in a known flood zone or in threat of a flood, consider evacuating horses to an area you know will not flood.

Preparing the pasture

  • Secure loose objects or remove them from pastures.
  • Do not place horses in pastures with electric fence, barbed wire or power lines.
  • Move animals to higher ground before a storm to keep them away from floods.

Preparing horses

  • Fit horses with fly masks to prevent eye injuries during the storm.
  • Utilize identification collars or braid a dog tag into the horse’s mane that lists your contact information in the event horses are separated from you during the storm.
      • Livestock chalk can be used to write information on the horse’s side as an alternative.
      • Consider microchipping for a more permanent form of identification, which can be done by your veterinarian.
  • Remove nylon or rope halters. If necessary, only use breakaway halters or a breakaway leather strap/neck collar.

Food and water supply

  • Stock up on water. Keep 10 to 12 gallons per horse, per day in stock and prepare for a minimum of 72 hours, but a week supply is best.
  • Line trash cans with plastic bags or use rain barrels to store water before the storm.
  • Stock up on extra feed and hay before the storm to prepare for potential transportation or supply issues.
  • Ensure you have enough forage to last at least 72 hours post-storm, but a week supply is best.
  • Keep feed in a safe, dry place that will not be impacted during the storm.

First aid kit and health

  • Gather items for a first aid kit that includes halters and lead ropes, a flashlight with extra batteries, clippers, fly spray, Phenylbutazone (Bute) and/or Banamine®, a thermometer, Chlorhexidine, or Betadine solution, bandage materials, duct tape, gloves and scissors.
  • Make sure horses are up to date on all vaccinations and have a negative Coggins test in case you need to evacuate.

Preparing equipment

  • Park horse trailers and tractors away from trees.
  • Top off gas tanks in case you need extra fuel after the storm.
  • Check tires and make sure trailers and equipment are in good working condition.

 

After the storm

Check animal condition

  • Once the storm has passed, check animals for injury or illness.
  • If a horse is missing, contact your local animal control office.

Food and water

  • Ensure each horse has food and water.
  • If you rely on well water and experienced any flooding, keep potential contamination issues in mind when you are refilling water troughs.
  • Ensure food has not been soiled and is dry and free of mold.

Check pastures

  • Make sure flooding has receded before reintroducing horses to the area.
  • Check fence lines and the rest of the pasture for debris or any other damage that could cause injury.

Record damages

  • Document any damage to trucks, trailers, barns or other insured structures or equipment.

 

For more information, watch this Extension Disaster Education Network video on equine storm preparation.

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