Farm Animals and Natural Disasters

From the Purdue Extension Service


Farm animals often suffer injury during a disaster but are just as likely to receive fresh injury after the storm, if not handled properly. Here are some of the things that can be done in the immediate aftermath of the storm or flood when animals must be handled, relocated or examined. If a storm or flood has occurred on a farm, check these links for specific information and recommendations:

  • Ensure your own personal safety and that of your helpers. Animals affected by the disaster are likely to be disturbed and fractious, and may not behave in predictable ways.
  • Wear coveralls or other protective clothing that will protect against sharp objects, work gloves to avoid cuts and rope burns and stout boots. Make sure you have adequate equipment.
  • If trying to move animals to a safer location make sure there are enough people to do the job. In this situation the chances of injury to people are greater than usual. Make sure that the people who assist you are confident and knowledgeable about handling livestock.
  • Take the time to construct adequate and robust paths for the animals to travel. Do not leave things to chance. In their excited state livestock are much more likely to go through or over barriers and injure themselves or escape.
  • Do not try and move large animals with a halter unless they are halter broke and you know they will lead easily.
  • Make sure that livestock do not have access to farm chemicals (such as pesticides) at the site to which you move them. If possible keep them away from farm machinery such as disk harrows etc. on which they may injure themselves.
  • To avoid additional stress in farm livestock re-establish feeding and watering routines as soon as possible and move animals quietly, with the minimum of fuss and shouting. Providing water should be the priority.
  • If wire fencing is used to corral animals, tie strips of cloth every five feet to the wire to mark the fence.
  • Photograph injured animals for insurance purposes. Make sure that you have a photograph of the injury and one of the whole animal for identification purposes.
  • All but minor injuries will require the attention of a veterinarian.
  • Do not attempt to move animals that have a fractured limb(s) or pelvis. If you have to move downer animals, move them on an object, such as a sheet of plywood or an old car hood that can be towed.

    Need disaster-related assistance? The USDA's Farm Service Agency provides assistance for natural disaster losses, resulting from drought, flood, fire, freeze, tornadoes, pest infestation, and other calamities.

Updated: 10/2009