October 12, 2009
Sheltering Your Livestock In Place
Evacuation not always an option
Sheltering in Place
If evacuation is not possible, a decision must be made whether to confine large animals to an available shelter on your farm or leave them out in pastures. Owners may believe that their animals are safer inside barns, but in many circumstances, confinement takes away the animals' ability to protect themselves. This decision should be based on the type of disaster and the soundness and location of the sheltering building.
Survey your property for the best location for animal sheltering. If your pasture area meets the following criteria, your large animals may be better off out in the pasture than being evacuated:
•No exotic (non-native) trees, which uproot easily
•No overhead power lines or poles
•No debris or sources of blowing debris
•No barbed wire fencing (woven wire fencing is best)
•Not less than one acre in size (if less than an acre, your livestock may not be able to avoid blowing debris).
If your pasture area does not meet these criteria, you should evacuate. Whether you evacuate or shelter in place, make sure that you have adequate and safe fencing or pens to separate and group animals appropriately.
Work with your state department of agriculture and county extension service. If your animals cannot be evacuated, these agencies may be able to provide on-farm oversight. Contact them well in advance to learn their capabilities and the most effective communication procedure.