5/5/2014 at 9:45 a.m.
From the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture:
LITTLE ROCK – Central Arkansas suffered severe damage from recent spring tornadoes,
which wrought loss to people, structures, pets and livestock. Because severe weather
that can cause tornado outbreaks is now possible throughout the entire year, it is
crucial Arkansans are educated on how to prepare for these events.
If you own a farm with livestock, there are some preparations you can do to minimize
losses and get back to work as quickly as possible after a storm. The most important
point to keep in mind is to have a plan and carry it out when severe weather is predicted.
Here are some things to consider when putting together your storm preparation plan.
First, plan for extended periods without water or electricity. Damage to infrastructure
and the resulting debris can render water pumps, electricity, cell phone service and
wifi inoperable. Determine how you will deal with these losses before they happen.
If possible, invest in a reliable backup generator and keep it in excellent operating
Next, familiarize yourself with the disaster response plan of your community. Do you
know where emergency shelters are? Do you have the contact info of emergency responders
in the area? Knowing what your community’s plan is to respond to severe weather threats
will help not only your home and business but allow you to assist your neighbors who
may be in need.
Some long-term strategies to preparing for the unexpected include daily organization
of farm and animal work. Keep your facilities, fences and animal working areas in
neat, well-working condition. Also, a clean farm will help minimize damage to equipment,
tools and buildings from debris in high winds. It also will limit the risk of injury
to distressed animals on your property.
If your property has areas that are prone to flooding, be sure to relocate livestock
to higher ground before the storms hit. Also, pay attention to your pasture’s layout
so animals can reach higher ground if paddocks are located in flood-risk areas. To
help you keep track of your livestock, maintain an inventory by using ear tags or
other forms of permanent ID. If an animal gets lost as a result of a storm, these
records of ownership will make it easier to identify and locate livestock.
While cattle producers usually know the “ins” and “outs” of transporting animals,
handling livestock and pets can pose a challenge for some owners. Because animals
sense severe weather or impending disaster, they can be difficult to handle. To minimize
any difficulty while handling animals, practice loading and transporting them prior
to severe weather, and teach them to exit and enter through barn gates and fence gates
that are not frequently used to lessen stress when those exits have to be used in
an emergency situation.
Assemble and keep in a safe place an emergency kit for livestock, which includes handling
equipment such as halters, nose leads, buckets and medication; tools and emergency
items for vehicles and trailers; and keep vehicle gas tanks at least half-full in
case you need to evacuate the area.
After a severe storm, remember these points as you survey your own property or help
in the community: animals, including pets, can be injured and distressed for some
time after the event. Keep livestock in a paddock where a veterinarian can provide
treatment and you can observe their behavior. If animals have died on the property,
be sure to remove them from streams or other water sources and select a dedicated
burning area for them. This will help limit water contamination for your, your neighbors
and other living things in the area. Before drinking or using the water sources on
your property or in the community, check its safety before consuming.
Finally, even less severe thunderstorms can result in considerable debris around farm
and homestead as well as damage to barns. Clean up debris as soon as feasible and
make any repairs to fences to maintain the safety of your farm.