Texas A&M releases tips on livestock preparedness during flooding

Hurricane Gustav could cause potential flooding in low-lying areas of East Texas and experts encourage livestock owners to take precautions.

"There are several measures that can be carried through in advance to minimize the threat of potential losses to a livestock operation," said Dr. Jason Cleere, Texas AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist.

The following are some guidelines:

- Livestock owners with large numbers of animals not capable of being evacuated by trailer should get animals to high ground. Open gates to pastures as cattle and other livestock instinctively seek higher ground.

"Cattle can also be physically driven out of low-lying areas and to higher ground to avoid a flooded area," Cleere said.

Avoid putting animals in barns or other dwellings due to potential high winds, he said.

"Turn them out into large lots, pens or pasture," Cleere said. "They can seek cover on their own in brushy areas."

-Livestock owners who own small numbers of animals which can be evacuated by trailer should make sure tires are properly inflated and flooring is in good condition.

"Don't overcrowd the trailer," Cleere said. "It's best to leave some behind rather than have one go down and get hurt."

-Prior to leaving the ranch, pick up debris that might become a hazard in the event of high winds, Cleere said. Strap down feeders, trailers and other items that might blow into a barn, home or other dwelling.

-Make sure there is adequate feed and water for a couple of weeks.

"If this is a devastating storm and there is substantial flooding, cattle could become stranded and forages may be ruined," Cleere said.  Thus, supplemental sources of feed may be necessary. "Hay is important. Basically, hay can be self fed and cattle can sustain on their own for a period of time. Also, think about water sources. Make sure those animals have sufficient sources of good water. "

Hurricane Preparedness for Livestock, an AgriLife Extension bookstore publication, is available in both English (reference number E-166) and Spanish (reference number E-166S) versions at http://agrilifebookstore.org/.

Videos on this topic are available at http://agnews.tamu.edu/issues/hurricane/videoandaudio.php.