Farm Animals and Natural Disasters

Farm animals not only can suffer injuries during a disaster but can also receive fresh injuries after the storm if not handled properly.

Here are some of the things that can be done in the immediate aftermath of the storm or flood when animals must be handled, relocated or examined.

Take Proper Precautions

Ensure your own personal safety and that of your helpers. Animals affected by the disaster are likely to be disturbed and fractious, and may not behave in predictable ways.

Wear coveralls or other protective clothing that will protect you against sharp objects, work gloves to avoid cuts and rope burns, and heavy boots.

Make sure you have adequate equipment and tools to deal with any downed fencing or damaged doors.

Relocate Animals

Take the time to construct adequate and robust paths for the animals to travel. Do not leave things to chance. In their excited state, livestock are much more likely to go through or over barriers and injure themselves or escape.

If trying to move animals to a safer location, have enough people to do the job. In this situation, the chances of injury to people are greater than usual. Make sure that the people who assist you are confident and knowledgeable about handling livestock.

Do not try to move large animals with a halter unless they are halter-broke and you know they will lead easily.

Make sure that livestock do not have access to farm chemicals (such as pesticides) at the site to which you move them. If possible, keep them away from farm machinery such as disk harrows, etc. on which they may injure themselves.

To avoid additional stress in farm livestock, re-establish feeding and watering routines as soon as possible and move animals quietly, with the minimum of fuss and shouting. Providing water should be the priority.

If wire fencing is used to corral animals, tie strips of cloth every five feet to the wire to mark the fence.

Injured Animals?

Photograph injured animals for insurance purposes. Make sure that you have a photograph of the injury and one of the whole animal for identification purposes.

All but minor injuries will require the attention of a veterinarian.

Do not attempt to move animals that have a fractured limb(s) or pelvis. If you have to move animals with such severe injuries, move them on an object, such as a sheet of plywood or an old car hood that can be towed.

WHN TIP – Need Disaster-Related Assistance? The USDA’s Farm Service Agency provides assistance for natural disaster losses, resulting from drought, flood, fire, freeze, tornadoes, pest infestation, and other calamities.


For More Information

Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Preparing The Farm And Farm Animals For Disasters

Extension Disaster Education Network’s (EDEN) Care of Pets and Livestock.