The tornadoes that ripped through Oklahoma last week are yet another stark reminder that everyone needs to be prepared for disasters, says Glen Selk, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock specialist.

If you are a cattle producer, being prepared means record keeping and animal ID. "Cleaning up after a severe storm is difficult enough. Losing valuable cattle brings additional financial hardship to the situation,” Selk says.

Cattle loss can occur in several scenarios. 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. “Keep a current inventory of all animals and the pastures where they are located. Individual animal ID tags on all animals have several other purposes, but can become extremely valuable if cattle become scattered or even stolen,” he says.

“If the cattle inventory records are computer-based, consider having a back-up copy stored at a neighbor's or a relative's house. Even handwritten records stored in more than one location may become valuable if the unthinkable (loss of home or outbuildings) occurs. These records will be very important when insurance claims need to be made, or if proof of ownership is required to reclaim livestock misplaced by the storm."

For more on disaster preparedness, go to texashelp.tamu.edu.