Tips for keeping your small ruminant flock safe during a hurricane

Dahlia O'Brien, Small Ruminant Specialist/Associate Professor, Virginia State University

Scott Greiner, Beef and Sheep Specialist/Professor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Stephan Wildeus, Professor, Virginia State University

It is important to take precaution and be proactive in preparing for a hurricane when you have small ruminants. This will increase the likelihood of your flock surviving.

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1.     Purchase additional feed and hay to last approximately 1-2 weeks. Have extra water stored. 

2.     Make sure that feed/hay is protected from water damage during the storm.

3.     Ensure that loose items (fence posts, wires etc.) are removed from pastures since injury to livestock is most often due to flying objects during a storm.

4.     Secure all items such as feeders, shelter or any equipment that could be picked up during the hurricane to reduce the chance of injury to animals or possibly becoming damaged.

5.     Access to secured shelter indoors is ideal (if not promoting over-crowding), or place in areas where animals have access to natural windbreaks. Our experience at Virginia State University has shown that sheep and goats put out onto pasture with high grounds (low areas could flood) and solid shelters have fared better than when being kept in pens and closed barns, especially when crowded.

6.     If left outside, be mindful of human safety first and foremost when checking on animals. Do not put yourself or family members at risk.

7.     Stock up on veterinary supplies (oral and topical antibiotics, tetanus antitoxin, etc.).

8.     Ensure generator is available and functional with a supply of gas to operate pumps, augers and refrigerated storage (medications).

9.     Ensure that all animals have proper identification in case of displacement. If possible, identification should include a means by which to contact or trace back to your farm.

10.  Prepare written inventory of animals along with breeding records and secure in safe location as it may be needed for insurance purposes.

For more information on small ruminants, please visit our Small Ruminant Program page, or visit your local ANR agent.

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