Disaster preparedness is important for all animals, but it is particularly important for livestock because of the animals' size and their shelter and transportation needs. It is imperative that you be prepared to protect your livestock, whether by evacuating or by sheltering in place.
The very first thing to do and in many ways the most important is make sure your horse is up-to-date with a tetanus booster and has had a vaccination for encephalitis, commonly known as sleeping sickness. This disease is carried by mosquitoes and the height of infection is July and August, just when storm, hurricane and flood season is at its height. This disease can kill both humans and horses, and should not be taken lightly. Horses should be vaccinated at least every six months, but most large stables do this every four months. See your personal veterinarian for details.
Identify Your Pet
Keep animal vaccinations current and photographs, papers and other identifying documents in a safe and easily accessible location. Brand, tag, freeze marking, tattoo or implant your animals with a permanent Microchip I.D. Make sure every animal has durable and visible identification.
Prepare a Disaster Kit
Successful disaster preparedness depends on knowing where emergency equipment is stored and keeping it easily accessible. Your facility should be equipped with ladder(s) long enough to reach the roof, cotton ropes, shovels, rakes, water buckets, flashlights or lanterns, blankets and a minimum of 100 feet of hose. Restraining equipment such as cotton halters, cotton lead ropes, collars, whips, hot shot, blindfolds, fence panels and hot wire kits are also a must in an emergency. Have an adequate, portable first-aid kit and a battery powered radio ready at all times.
Make a disaster plan to protect your property, your facilities, and your animals. Create a list of emergency telephone numbers, including those of your employees, neighbors, veterinarian, state veterinarian, poison control, local animal shelter, animal care and control, county extension service, local agricultural schools, trailering resources, and local volunteers. Include a contact person outside the disaster area. Make sure all this information is written down and that everyone has a copy.
Reinforce your house, barn, and outbuildings with hurricane straps and other measures. Perform regular safety checks on all utilities, buildings, and facilities on your farm. Survey your property for the best location for animal sheltering. If your pasture area meets the following criteria, your large animals may be better off out in the pasture than being evacuated:
No exotic (non-native) trees, which uproot easily
No overhead power lines or poles
No debris or sources of blowing debris
No barbed wire fencing (woven wire fencing is best)
Not less than one acre in size (if less than an acre, your livestock may not be able to avoid blowing debris).
Use only native and deep-rooted plants and trees in landscaping (non-native plants are less durable and hardy in your climate and may become dislodged by high winds).
Remove all barbed wire, and consider rerouting permanent fencing so that animals may move to high ground in a flood and to low-lying areas during high winds.
Install a hand pump and obtain enough large containers to water ALL your animals for at least a week (municipal water supplies and wells are often contaminated during a disaster).
Identify alternate water and power sources. A generator with a safely stored supply of fuel may be essential, especially if you have electrical equipment necessary to the well being of your animals.
Secure or remove anything that could become blowing debris; make a habit of securing trailers, propane tanks, and other large objects. If you have boats, feed troughs, or other large containers, fill them with water before any high wind event. This prevents them from blowing around and also gives you an additional supply of water.
If you use heat lamps or other electrical machinery, make sure the wiring is safe and that any heat source is clear of flammable debris.
Label hazardous materials and place them all in the same safe area. Provide local fire and rescue and emergency management authorities with information about the location of any hazardous materials on your property.
Remove old buried trash—a potential source of hazardous materials during flooding that may leech into crops, feed supplies, water sources, and pasture.
Review and update your disaster plan, supplies, and information regularly.
Familiarize your animals with emergency procedures and common things they would encounter during a disaster.