As I sit writing this, multiple tornados have ripped through the Southeast and much of the Midwest is under a blizzard warning. Disasters come in many forms – hurricane, flood, tornado, fire, blizzard or ice storm, just to name a few. You will likely have to deal with one or more of these situations at some point. No matter where you live or what kind of livestock you raise, everyone can benefit from having a well-prepared disaster plan. As they say – failing to plan is the same as planning to fail. Here are a few tips on what you can do:
Familiarize yourself with possible disasters for your location, including manmade situations like chemical spills near highways. Develop a written plan of action for each scenario. Include a list of resources (livestock haulers, veterinarians, American Red Cross, county Extension Agent, etc.) along with their contact numbers. These action plans should be kept with your disaster kit in a secure but easily accessible place. Photograph/video all structures and/or equipment and keep this in your disaster kit. It might also be useful to keep a list of VIN or serial numbers of equipment in your disaster kit along with your insurance information. Review insurance coverage and make sure you have adequate coverage, especially if you have made improvements or additions since the last review.
- Do you require electricity to feed or water your livestock? If yes, do you have a back-up generator capable running of all necessary equipment?
- Have you identified off-site locations for possible evacuation? Identify these in advance and familiarize yourself with their rules and procedures.
- Do your livestock have permanent identification? Do you have a written inventory of all tag/tattoo numbers? This will help recovery if they escape or are lost in the disaster. Another good idea is to photograph and inventory your animals, especially those of highest value. In the event that only a portion of the animals can be saved, make sure that these are identified as high priority in your Disaster Plan.
- Possibilities include: fairgrounds, stockyards, boarding stables, veterinary facilities, and other farms.
- Do you own trailers/trucks capable of hauling all of your livestock to another location? If not, locate suitable transportation well in advance of an emergency.
- If evacuation isn’t possible, where is the best location(s) on your property for animal confinement? Make sure that you have enough feed and water for a minimum of 48 hours at this location(s).
- Do you have temporary fencing materials that don’t require electricity at the ready?
These are but a few tips and suggestions. Each potential disaster will have its own unique challenges. In summary, disasters are an inevitable fact of life; however, with a little planning you can make sure that you are properly prepared to deal with them and provide the best care possible for your livestock.