When a hurricane threatens, what should you do about the animals too large to bring indoors?
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Services offers these tips for keeping livestock safe during and after a hurricane hits.
• Livestock are safest in the pasture. Do not leave cows or horses in the barn. If the barn should collapse in a storm, they could be injured and/or trapped.
• Secure or remove any loose objects from the pastures.
• Move animals to higher ground or interior pastures, if possible.
• If there is a barn in or near the pasture, check the roof to make sure roofing materials are fastened well.
• Waterproof paint, markers and livestock grease pencils can be used to write your information directly on your horse, in case the horse gets out during or after a storm. Heavy plastic livestock tags can be braided into the mane or top of the tail or attached to halters. Include your name, address and phone number on the tag with waterproof marker. Additionally, take multiple pictures of your horse(s) should you need to prove ownership later. (Make sure to have copies of Coggins reports for all horses.)
• If possible, avoid pastures with power lines and electric fencing.
• Move animals to a pasture with a pond so well-filled water troughs are not the only source of water.
• If you do not have a pond, stock up on water so you can keep water troughs full. Thirsty cattle are known to break out of fencing to get to water. You can line trash cans with plastic bags to use as rain barrels to store water before the storm.
• Have enough hay, feed and health care supplies on hand for one to two weeks.
• Keep feed in a safe, dry place that will not be impacted during the storm.
• Put together a first aid kit with antiseptic, bandage materials, duct tape, gloves, scissors, extra halters and ropes, a flashlight and extra batteries.
• Make sure animals are up to date on vaccinations and have veterinarian records handy and in a safe place.
• Have a current contact list that includes your veterinarian, neighbors, USDA Farm Service Agency Office, insurance provider, utility company and your county extension office.
• Top off gas in all vehicles. Stock up on enough fuel to run backup generators for equipment.
• Check the tires and make sure trailers and equipment are in good condition.
• Make sure chainsaws are in good working order to handle fallen trees.
• Stock up on fence repair materials.