Livestock Readiness & Recovery During a Flood

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As we’ve seen in Texas this past week, flooding events can quickly occur and cause unnecessary chaos if you are not properly prepared. We thought now is the perfect time to review some actions to take prior to these emergency events.

As we well know, having livestock and other animals on a farm or ranch creates additional havoc when flooding is present. First and foremost, your personal safety is priority. Secondly, be prepared and have a response plan in place for the safety of your animals.  After all, we understand that your livestock is part of your livelihood.

Preparing for a Flood

Have an emergency plan to protect your livestock in place. This plan should include handy contact information for the following emergency resources:

  • Employees
  • Neighbors
  • Veterinarians
  • Poison Control Center
  • Animal Shelters
  • County Cooperative Extension
  • Livestock Transport Resources
  • Feedstock Providers in Various Regions

Other items your emergency plan should include:

  • Animal Identification No matter if you plan to transport your livestock or not, have visible identification numbers on all animals. With flooding, animals will likely become lost or may end up in your neighbor’s pasture.
  • Access Restriction to Dangerous Areas When necessary and able, move your livestock to higher ground where flood prone pastures, barns and other structures are not accessible.
  • Food & Water SuppliesLivestock needs food and clean water. Have a contingency plan for feeding and watering your animals if existing resources have been contaminated by flood waters.
  • Removal of Potential Contaminants – Floodwaters can do a lot of damage including contamination of soil, animal feed and fresh water by transporting chemicals, fertilizers, trash and other debris. Make sure you have your hazardous materials labeled and in a safe location. In addition, remove old buried trash that could filter through the water and into crops, feed supplies, etc.
  • Check for Fire Hazards – Even in a flood, fires are a risk. Protect your livestock from this by removing all fuels away from the area of barns and other shelters, turn off electrical power to these structures and instead use gas or diesel generators that can be transported as needed.

Flood Recovery

What to lookout for:

  • Contaminated food & water supplies
  • Standing, stagnant water
  • Mosquitoes
  • Livestock carcasses
  • Sharp objects transported or blown into pastures
  • Sick/diseased animals
  • Wild animals displaced by flood waters
  • Damaged barbed wire fences and gates
  • Weakened barns and other structures
  • Eroded and unstable creek beds

Steps to take:

  • Inventory your Livestock – Identify any missing animals and inform neighbors if any are lost. In addition, it’s a good idea to inform your local livestock auction barns about your lost animals. Theft is a threat in these types of scenarios, so have yourself covered.
  • Remove Hazardous Objects – Find and remove all dangerous objects from pastures that your livestock will find. This includes safety for you and your workers from being injured when normal activities on the farm or ranch start back up.
  • Observe Livestock for Illness – Infectious diseases are a real threat. It’s important to remove any dead animals ASAP and bury them at least 3-4 feet deep and cover with lime. You do not want to chance the spreading of diseases to your healthy livestock.
  • Inspect Food & Water Sources – As soon as you’re able, check feed for water damage and contamination. The potential of mold can cause digestive problems for your livestock and contamination by pesticides and other chemicals can lead to livestock death.
  • Inspect Fencing – To prevent further potential of lost livestock, when it’s safe, check all fencing for potential breaks, etc.

As always in agriculture, we need to look out for each other. Be sure to check with USDA for financial recovery efforts as you may qualify in a natural disaster event.

Our thoughts & prayers are with you, Texas!

Resource: Smith, David V. (2018, October 18). Livestock Preparedness & Recovery. Retrieved from


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