Flood Information

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Keep Livestock, Hay High and Dry

Livestock producers should plan to move their animals to higher ground before floodwaters start rising.

“Trying to rescue cattle and other large livestock in floodwaters is dangerous and can be deadly because of floating ice and debris and near-freezing water temperatures,” says Charlie Stoltenow, North Dakota State University Extension Service veterinarian. “Also, animals sometimes refuse to leave when floodwaters rise quickly and they may drown.”

Unconfined livestock usually can take care of themselves in a flood provided they are not trapped in low-lying areas. In broad, level flood plains where floodwaters seldom get deeper than 3 to 4 feet, producers may want to create soil mounds that livestock can live on until the water recedes. Locate the mounds where fast-flowing water won’t wash them away.

Hay also should be moved if it is stored in places with a high risk of flooding, such as low spots in fields, along creeks and rivers, and in areas that may be inaccessible if roads are washed out. Having feed supplies on hand is important because producers can’t count on feed or fuel assistance being available during a flood.

Here are some other tips for producers who are confining livestock to a barn or other building during a flood:

  • Provide feed and water. Thirsty animals will try to break out to reach floodwaters. If clean water supplies are short, limit the animals’ feed intake.
  • If animals are being housed with machinery, fasten bales of straw in front of sharp edges and protruding parts, such as cutter bars and crank handles. Do not use hay bales because animals will eat the hay. Also cover wooden paddle wheels on combines or choppers.
  • Block off narrow passages in the structure where animals would not be able to turn around. A few heavy animals trapped in a dead end can be dangerous to them and the building.
  • Make sure herbicides, pesticides and treated seeds are not accessible to animals and are stored where they don’t get into floodwaters and contaminate livestock feed or water.
  • Turn off electricity to the structure at the main switch. Livestock could damage electrical fixtures, which could lead to fires or electrocutions.

For more information, www.ag.ndsu.edu/flood or www.extension.org/Floods.

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