What Do I Do Before a Disaster?
A disaster can occur at any time. Even small disasters like gas leaks or a small flood, can occur unexpectedly and keep you from tending your animals. Preparing ahead of time and acting quickly is the best way to keep your family and livestock safe.
- Make arrangements with a friend or neighbor living nearby to take care of your cattle in the event disaster strikes when you are not home or cannot return home. He/she should be familiar with your animals, your emergency contact information and your plans either to evacuate or shelter in place.
- If needed for a small number of animals, prearrange an evacuation site for your livestock that is outside your immediate area. This could be a friend's house, a private stable, fairgrounds, other farms or a veterinarian's office.
- Make arrangements for these locations to accept your animals before an emergency.
- If you plan to evacuate, have a means of transporting your animals. This could either be having your own trailer or having agreements with friends or neighbors. Having the necessary gates and livestock panels and/or a designated livestock loading area will make moving animals and loading a trailer easier.
- If you need to shelter in place either due to a large number of animals or that an evacuation is not possible, plan ahead. For different disasters, plan where your animals, feed and water would be placed.
- Disaster can create power outages that cause pumps and automatic watering systems to stop working. Check for alternate water sources on your farm, store enough water for 72 hours or have the contacts (local fire departments and vendors) that would bring water to your farm in an emergency.
- Keep insurance coverage on your farm and animals current.
- Have enough feed, hay and bedding material to last 7-10 days on your farm. Avoid waiting until all your feed is gone before replenishing. See http://www.training.fema.gov/emiweb/downloads/is10_a-8.pdf for short term dietary requirements for farm animals during disasters.
- For a small number of livestock, prepare a Livestock "Go Bag" and have it in an easily accessible location.
- If you plan to evacuate, keep trailers in a well maintained and easy accessible location.
- Permanently identify each animal (neck collar, microchip, metal ear tag, ear tattoo, and photograph).
- Have an inventory of all your animals including ID/name, breed, sex, age.
- Have important animal health records and contact information together in a sealed plastic bag or document holder. Keep one copy at the farm and take one with you when you evacuate. These documents should include an inventory of your animals (number , ID, sex, breed and color), your pigs veterinary and health records, veterinary and other important contact information.
- Decide to where to store feed and hay to keep it safe during disaster.
- Develop an evacuation plan and become familiar with local evacuation routes.
- Have a backup generator and the necessary fuel to run it.
- Visit your local Office of Emergency Management website to sign up for automatic alerts.
- Test or run your backup generator a few times per year and make sure that you have adequate fuel to run the generator for at least 72 hours.
- For small number of animals that you plan to evacuate, practice loading on a trailer.
- For larger herds of animals where evacuation may not always be feasible, review your shelter in place plans. Know where you would locate your animals in different disasters as well as a safe location for your feed, water, hay and bedding supplies.