Monday, July 28, 2014
     

CARING FOR LIVESTOCK DURING A DISASTER

  • Adrenalin, panic and confusion affect both humans and animals.
  • The survival instincts of livestock can make normal handling techniques ineffective.
  • The proper disaster management approach needs to vary with each type of disaster.
  • Livestock management priorities during a disaster should focus on immediate safety.

Information for Livestock Owners

If you have large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs on your property, be sure to prepare before a disaster.

Preparation Guidelines:

  • Ensure all animals have some form of identification that will help facilitate their return.
  • Evacuate animals whenever possible. Arrangements for evacuation, including routes should be made in advance. Alternate routes should be mapped out in case the planned route is inaccessible.
  • The evacuation sites should have or be able to readily obtain food, water, veterinary care, handling equipment and facilities.
  • Make available vehicles and trailers needed for transporting and supporting each type of animal. Also make available experienced handlers and drivers. Note: It is best to allow animals a chance to become accustomed to vehicular travel so they are less frightened and easier to move.
  • If evacuation is not possible, a decision must be made whether to move large animals to available shelter or turn them outside. This decision should be determined based on the type of disaster and the soundness and location of the shelter.

Cold Weather Guidelines:

When temperatures plunge below zero, livestock producers need to give extra attention to their animals. Prevention is the key to dealing with hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries in livestock.

Make sure your livestock has the following help prevent cold-weather maladies:

  • Shelter
  • Plenty of dry bedding to insulate vulnerable udders, genitals and legs from the frozen ground and frigid winds.
  • Windbreaks to keep animals safe from frigid conditions.
  • Plenty of food and water

Also, take extra time to observe livestock, looking for early signs of disease and injury. Severe cold-weather injuries or death primarily occur in the very young or in animals that are already debilitated. Cases of cold weather-related sudden death in calves often result when cattle are suffering from undetected infection, particularly pneumonia. Sudden, unexplained livestock deaths and illnesses  should be investigated quickly so that a cause can be identified and steps can be taken to protect remaining animals.

Animals suffering from frostbite don’t exhibit pain. It may be up to two weeks before the injury becomes evident as freeze-damaged tissue starts to slough away. At that point, the injury should be treated as an open wound and a veterinarian should be consulted.

POWER FAILURES ON THE FARM

A power failure or fuel shortage can cause problems on farms, but being prepared can minimize the seriousness of these problems. There are three areas of concern:

  • Poultry and Livestock
  • Equipment
  • Storing Milk and Cream

Poultry and Livestock

To protect poultry and livestock during a power failure, you should provide four essentials: ventilation, water, heat and food.

Ventilation

  • Ventilate shelter.
  • Do not close buildings tight to conserve heat, since animals could suffocate from lack of oxygen.
  • Oxygen will eventually be used up in mechanically ventilated production facilities, clear debris from all vents to facilitate natural air flow.
  • Poultry facilities should be equipped with knock-out panels for emergency ventilation.
  • In dairy facilities, open doors or turn cows outside.

Water

  • Provide all animals, especially cattle, need plenty of water.
  • Your water pump may possibly be driven with a small gasoline engine and a belt. Otherwise you will need to haul water.
  • If you have an outside source of water, cattle can be turned out.
  • Whatever the source of waster, make sure it remains clean so animals can drink it.
  • If no water is available, dairymen can feed cows their own milk as a last resort.

Heat

  • Provide heat. Use camp stoves and heaters as emergency heat sources for brooders.