High winds, torrential rains and flooding can affect poultry owners in several ways. Many preparations are a part of your regular routine. Regular maintenance of fence and coops or housing keep poultry safe at all times. Reinforce barns, outbuildings, and chicken coops with hurricane straps and other measures. Be sure the coop has plenty of elevated perch space should flooding occur. Keep coops and runs cleaned out regularly.
If you are in a known evacuation area or plan to evacuate regardless, your preparation will require advance planning. Should you choose to evacuate with your poultry, be sure to identify 1 or 2 geographically different areas (with friends or family) where you can evacuate and have poultry housing. Be sure you have the needed transportation cages; otherwise, secure transportation in advance. Purchase at least 3 days of feed to haul with you to the evacuation destination. Keep your poultry only with their familiar pen mates to avoid added stress. Additionally, poultry should not be mixed with other poultry due to health concerns; they should be quarantined from other poultry.
If you have the ability to shelter in place, your advance preparation will be focused on maintaining fence, removing dead or dying trees (especially around poultry housing), making sure pens are high-and-dry. Be sure chickens have areas in the pen that are at least a foot higher than surrounding areas should flooding occur. Make sure your barn roofing material is fastened well and any objects nearby are removed; all of these can become flying debris. Purchase feed and fill water tubs to last at least 5 days. The minimum requirement for hens is ¼ pound of feed per day. Keep feed dry in a secured area. Poultry are quite susceptible to disease and illness when consuming spoiled feed; additionally, flood water and the eventual stagnant water left behind can also make poultry ill. Fresh feed and water are very important.
If you would like more information on disaster preparation for horse owners, please contact Laura Bennett, Multi-County Livestock Agent at the UF/IFAS Pasco, Sumter, Hernando County Extension Office at 352-518-0156.