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Extension > Extreme Weather > Prepare for floods > Preparing livestock in a flood zone

Preparing livestock in a flood zone

The impact of a natural disaster on people always makes headlines.  If you happen to be a livestock farmer, the impact on you seldom makes headlines, but it makes a big impact on you, your livestock and the viability of your operation.

Many natural disasters give you little or no warning, but flooding is usually forecast, giving farmers time to think about contingency plans and take action.  If farmers in flood-prone areas get caught unprepared, it is more likely because they didn’t act than not knowing the flood may occur.

Your specific plan of action will vary by the type of livestock operation, but there are many common questions to address.  Consider these questions for your own livestock operation if flooding is a possibility at your farmstead or livestock facility:

If you are able to leave your stock at home but the power goes off for hours or even days because of flooding -

You probably don't have answers to all those questions right now, but start thinking about them. Engage the innovative thinking of the rest of your family and people who are part of your farming operation. It is even of value to consider some really off-beat solutions to some of the problems you might face. Sometimes you need to be way on the edge of the solution possibilities in order to actually get through this planning process and arrive at what will be most appropriate for your farm business.

The last question on the list is pretty drastic, but should be considered. In a time of severe stress, such as the total loss of a farm, it is only natural for the first thought to be, "We'll rebuild." You would probably try to rebuild with the latest technology for the same business operation you had before the disaster, but you really should be considering whether a different type of business is more appropriate for the resources you have available. As time goes along, the interests, skills and abilities of the people involved may also change, so rebuilding might just put everyone back into a business they really don't want to be in anyway. Business continuity is something for which every business needs a plan. Your farm is no exception. Just make sure you continue in the right way and for the right reasons.

Good luck on your planning. While it is a serious issue, don't be afraid to have a little fun with it at this time by looking at a number of scenarios. When you don't actually have to carry out a plan is a good time to really play with it, looking for the best solutions possible. This will help reduce the need to make hasty decisions under a stressful situation and assure that whatever decision is made will best fit the needs of the family and farm operation for the years ahead.

Author: Chuck Schwartau, Extension Educator (2011)

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