Hurricane Recovery for Livestock Operations

— Written By Kelsey Lichtenwalner
en Español

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USDA Photos by Lance Cheung.

                                           USDA Photos by Lance Cheung.

No matter how well we prepare, Hurricanes usually leave a soggy, wind-battered mess in their wake. The following are a few, after the storm tips to help you recover quickly and safely:

  • Inventory Livestock – Inventory livestock immediately, and inform neighbors of any animals that are lost. Livestock can wander far from home in an emergency situation!
  • Down Fencing – The most common damaged caused by a hurricane is downed or damaged fencing. It is important to restore fencing (temporary or permanent) as quickly as possible to keep livestock contained. Make repairing the perimeter fencing your priority, and share cattle handling facilities and portable corrals with your neighbors when possible. Remember, while walking around keep an eye out for downed power lines!
  • Entering Barns and Other Structures – Do not enter barns, sheds, silos, or other structures until you are sure they are structurally safe.
  • Moving Livestock – Remember to use low-stress handling techniques when moving livestock (i.e. calmly and quietly, with no sudden or big movements that could startle your livestock). Behavioral changes in livestock are not uncommon after stressful situations.
  • Removing Hazardous Objects – Any objects that can cut, scrape, gouge or poke livestock should be removed as quickly as possible, especially if they are blocking a water drainage point. Remember to wear a good, intact pair of gloves and sturdy work pants and boots while handling objects that could potentially cut, scrape, gouge or poke you too!
  • Inspect Food and Water Sources – Make sure you check your hay and feed for any water contamination. NEVER feed moldy hay or feed to your livestock or force them to drink water that has been flooded as it can cause serious digestive problems, or even death.
Photo taken by Larry Krause

            Photo taken by Larry Krause

Common Health Issues

After a hurricane, flooded pastures can cause a multitude of health issues for livestock.

  • With less room to spread out, diseases (such as pink eye, or stress-related pneumonia) can spread through a herd quickly. In these situations, monitor your livestock closely and isolate livestock that appear injured or ill immediately.
  • Treat any lacerations and wounds as soon as animals can be safely contained.
  • Skin conditions – such as rain rot, or foot rot – may appear days to weeks after a hurricane due to the excessive moisture. Keep an eye on your livestock and have injectable penicillin and topical disinfectants on hand.

           Photo taken by Recoverling

Carcass Disposal

Hopefully your livestock were able to make it safely through the storm; however, if there was a loss it’s important to bury your animals properly to avoid future problems.

  • Bury carcasses deep enough to prevent offensive odors, fly breeding, and unearthing by other animals – at least 3 feet of compacted earth. After it settles, place more dirt over the surface to prevent a ponding effect.
  • If you need to dispose of a large number of animal carcasses, contact the NCDA&CS Veterinary Division at (919) 707-3250.

If you have any questions about damage/recovery, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will do our best to connect you with resources.