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Eye on Ag: Equine disaster preparedness

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We’re in the middle of hurricane season, so now is the time to plan what you would do if a hurricane hit us. These same suggestions can be used to be prepared for any type of disaster — natural or man-made. Although these ideas were written with horses in mind, they can be tailored to fit any animal. The following suggestions are from the Equine Disaster Response Alliance which is a collaborative effort between groups representing the equine industry and horse owners.

How to Prepare for a Disaster

• Be familiar with the types of disasters that can occur in this area and develop a written plan of action for each

• Keep a stock of hay, grain, water, medications and veterinary supplies

• Decide where you will take your horses if evacuation becomes necessary

• Keep your horses’ vaccinations and boosters up to date

Compile all important documents in one location. This should include:

• Registration papers

• Medical history, dosages and types of medications/health products required

• Dietary requirements

• Current Coggins test

• Photographs (left and right side, face, medial and lateral lower legs as well as a photo of you with your horse)

• Train your horse to load and unload

Marking Horses

Make ID tags such as luggage tags for your horse. On each tag, clearly write your name, address, phone number, horse’s description, feeding instructions, special needs and your vet’s name and phone number. Attach the tag to the halter with duct tape or braid into mane or tail. Do not tie around the tail. Permanent identification methods, like tattoos, brands and microchips, work well. Small clippers can be used to clip your phone number onto your horse’s neck. An auction crayon can be used to write your number on him. Spray painting the hooves will also help identify the animal.

Items to Have in Case of an Emergency

• Photographs, registration papers and medical records for each horse

• Enough hay, geed and water to last three or more days

• Halter and lead for each horse with the horse’s name on the halter

• Medications and veterinary supplies

• Extra feed buckets

• Extra bedding, pitchforks, shovels, and a wheelbarrow

• Portable first-aid kit

• Map and list of phone numbers (veterinarian, transporter, insurance company, etc.)

Hurricane Preparation

(The following information was obtained from a University of Florida Extension publication)

We are in the middle of hurricane season, and luckily no storms have hit us so far. However, preparing for the possibility now can make dealing with the actual disaster much easier. Here are some things to do before the storm.

• Make sure you have adequate water stored for all animals

• If you have large numbers of animals, make sure you have a generator that it is operational and plenty of fuel to run it

• Keep chlorine bleach on hand because contaminated water may be purified by adding two drops of chlorine bleach per quart of water and then let stand for 30 minutes

• Store at least 72 hours (seven days is best) of hay and feed. Cover hay with waterproof tarps and store grain in water tight containers.

• Store lawn furniture, etc. to prevent them from becoming projectile objects

• Place large vehicles and tractors in open fields to prevent tree damage

• Turn off electrical power to barn and other outbuildings

• Make sure you have emergency tools on-hand such as chain saw and fuel, hammer and nails, fence repair materials, fire extinguisher.

• If you have a generator, run it prior to the storm to make sure it is operational. Have plenty of fuel on-hand

After the storm has passed, you should address this checklist:

• Inspect animals for injuries and treat appropriately

• Walk through pasture to access and repair any fence damage and remove any debris that could be harmful to animals

• Look for and report any downed power lines

• Take pictures of storm damage

• If any animals are missing, contact animal control

Kim Woods is the area N.C. Cooperative Extension agent for agriculture and animal science in Person and Granville counties.