What is in this article?:
- In Severe Weather, Chance Favors The Prepared
- Protect yourself
Severe weather is a fact of life this time of year. Proper preparation can help you survive the storm.
It’s interesting to note that when George Gershwin wrote the iconic ballad “Summertime and the livin’ is easy,” he didn’t pen an equally melodic tribute to spring.
Not that springtime hasn’t received its share of accolades. Indeed, little can beat a beautiful spring day with gentle sunshine and a light breeze. But spring has a dark side, and when it throws a temper tantrum, the thunder and a whole lot more will roll.
And that spells trouble for everyone, particularly cattlemen. Cattle loss can occur in several scenarios, says Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Extension emeritus animal scientist. “Livestock may be killed, lost, or stolen during a stormy situation. An accurate accounting of livestock and property is essential to a cattle operation’s storm preparedness,” he says.
Selk suggests keeping a current inventory of all animals and the pastures where they’re located. “Individual animal ID tags on all animals have several other purposes, but can become extremely valuable if cattle become scattered or even stolen. If these records are computer-based, consider having a back-up copy stored at a neighbor’s or a relative’s house,” he says.
Here are some suggestions for protecting cattle from the aftermath of storms:
• Gather and dispose of trash, limbs, wire and damaged equipment that could harm livestock. Clear and repair damaged fences.
• Make sure livestock have plenty of water and food that haven’t been contaminated by pollutants. In some cases, it’s necessary to truck in water and food, or to remove livestock from contaminated areas.
• Properly and immediately dispose of dead carcasses. If rendering plants are still available in your area, they may process some dead animals. Those not processed should be buried away from water bodies at least 3-4 ft. deep and covered with quick-lime to accelerate decomposition.
• Observe livestock for signs of infectious disease such as pneumonia or foot rot. All animals that die immediately following a disaster should be necropsied by a veterinarian.
• Spray livestock with insect repellent in case of floods to protect against mosquitoes that may carry disease.
“There are other things to consider when clearing the storm debris,” Selk says. “Be mindful of fiberglass insulation that’s often scattered across pastures. Gather as much of the big pieces as possible so cattle don’t consume large amounts of the insulation.”
Plastic bags can also be ingested by cattle and cause compacted intestinal tracts. Avoid junk or debris that could be a source of lead. “This could really be an issue after a severe thunderstorm or tornado with wind damage that results in roofing debris spread across the pasture,” he says. “Don’t allow cattle access to pastures where old car batteries or sources of crank case oil (old abandoned vehicles or machines) may cause lead poisoning.”