Hurricane Season and Livestock

Hurricane season and livestock are not a well matched pair.  One of the horrid things we see during hurricanes is the loss of livestock.  There are situations where evacuating livestock is not possible but, given the nature of hurricanes, the well prepared farmer will have a plan to evacuate all the livestock he can.

Others don’t even attempt to evacuate them.  Why?  Mostly because of poor planning. Often people purchase insurance to cover agricultural losses.  Animals are property to be insured.  Another reason is because hurricanes are unpredictable until two days out.  By then, most people have evacuated.  They don’t want to take their livestock because they think the chances of hurricane hitting some where else is greater than the chances of it hitting their home.  Lastly, they often think it won’t be as “bad” as that and the animals will be fine.

The prepper view of livestock should be not so willing to abandon animals when the threat of a storm looms in the future.  The purpose of prepping is to have the preps available when the disaster makes itself at home in your front yard.  Your animals should be enjoying the same level of safety as you.  If they are not, aside from being inhumane, you could lose all the time and money you put into raising them.

Deer are part of some preppers' livestock plan.Chickens for instance, take five or six months to start laying eggs.  If you let them die in a disaster, you will have to wait another six months to have fresh eggs while investing the time and money again.  The same goes for the rest of your livestock whether it be deer, hogs, goats or cattle.

What to do?  Plan well in advance. Get to know people in  areas of the state or country who will be willing to temporarily house your animals for you.  You might have to pay them something, but it should be worth it.  If you are friends with landowners a reciprocal agreement for helping each other out in case of such events would be beneficial to both.  Remember, whoever you have these agreements with, the person needs to be outside the potential disaster area.  If your livestock bug-out place is within the zone, you have gained nothing.  Make sure your animals have all their vaccines and other veterinary attention taken care of before hurricane season.  Healthy animals whether stressful situations better.

Consider how you will transport your animals and when you will begin the process of evacuating your animals.  For hurricanes you can have as long as a week or more to decide what to do.  For instance, if you see there is a possibility of evacuating  your livestock you should take the extra bags of food you will need for at least a week to the livestock bug-out location. It would also be a good time to take your veterinary supplies to the bug-out location.

Sometimes it just isn’t possible to evacuate all your livestock, no matter how much you want to.  If this is the case, there are things you should do long before a hurricane is on the way.  Check the barn and other buildings for loose boards, fence or other things that could become flying debris.  Check the buildings routinely to reduce the amount of effort required later. Have a stockpile of fresh water and food for your animals.  Much livestock is lost because they swallowed saltwater.  Animals inside a barn can be seriously injured or killed if a tornado hits the barn.  Animals should not be locked in the barn during a hurricane and will instinctively look for higher ground.  But if your animals are within range of the storm surge, they may experience a higher death rate.

Caged animals and birds can be moved to the safest location in the garage if they can’t go with you.  Remember to take the same precautions in the garage as for the barn.  Once all animals are tended, be sure to turn off electricity and water before you leave.  For the farmer who names his animals before they go to market or become dinner, leaving them behind in such a situation is heartbreaking.

When returning to your home after the disaster, your livestock will need immediate attention.  Take your veterinary first aid kit, and maybe the vet you partnered with for the zombie apocalypse to assess the welfare of each animal.  Getting animals to safety as quickly as possible will be the first priority.

We all hope we don’t have to endure such an event, but if we do, being prepared for our livestock as well as ourselves will save heartache for all.