Cattle care checklist: before and after the storm with UF/IFAS Extension livestock specialist, Doug Mayo
Before the storm
Preparing the pasture
- Secure loose objects or remove them from pastures.
- If possible, avoid placing cattle in pastures with electric fence, barbed wire or power lines. For operations that rely on electric fencing, have a generator ready to keep the fence hot or move animals to interior pastures so they have multiple fences to help keep them in.
- Move animals to higher ground before a storm to keep them away from floods. Livestock with space to roam can usually weather the storm well and will move to high ground if they have access.
- If safe, move cattle to a pasture with a pond so well-filled water troughs are not the only source of water.
- Block narrow passageways where animals could crowd and then be unable to turn around. Animals in a narrow dead end can be dangerous not only to themselves but also to the areas in which they are crowded.
Feed and water supply
- Stock up on water. Thirsty cattle are known to break out of fencing to get to water.
- 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 food to last at least 72 hours post-storm, but a week or two-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 ropes, a flashlight with extra batteries, Chlorhexidine or Betadine solution, bandage materials, duct tape, gloves and scissors.
- Make sure cattle are up to date on all vaccinations in case you need to evacuate and have vet records handy.
- Develop a list of current contact information that includes your veterinarian, neighbors, USDA Farm Service Agency Office, insurance provider, utility company and your county Extension office.
- Check tires and make sure trailers and equipment are in good working condition.
- Park tractors and equipment away from trees and on high ground.
- Ensure chainsaws are in good working order and ready to handle fallen trees after the storm.
- Top off gas tanks in case you need extra fuel after the storm.
- Stock up on fence repair materials such as wire, posts and staples.
After the storm
Beware of downed power lines! Treat them as if they are charged. If you encounter a downed power line while driving, stay in your vehicle and contact emergency personnel or the utility company.
Check animal condition
- Once the storm has passed, check animals for injury or illness.
- If cattle are missing, contact your local animal control office.
Feed and water
- Ensure livestock have access to food and water.
- If you rely on well water, keep potential contamination issues in mind when you are refilling water troughs.
- Ensure feed and hay have not been soiled and is dry and free of mold.
- Make sure flooding has receded before reintroducing cattle to low-lying areas.
- Check fence lines and the rest of the pasture for debris or any other damage that could cause injury.
- Document any damage to trucks, trailers, barns or other insured structures or equipment.
- Report major damage to the local USDA Farm Service Agency Office within 15 days of the storm to be eligible for federal disaster aid.