Rosslyn Biggs, Beef Cattle Extension Specialist and Director of Continuing Education and Mark Z. Johnson, Oklahoma State University Extension Beef Cattle Breeding Specialist
Springtime usually brings concerns of tornadoes and severe weather. However, with continuing drought conditions, fears of wildfires may be high on producers’ minds. Fortunately, having an emergency preparedness plan can assist a cattlemen’s ability to respond to varying threats throughout the year. Developing a disaster plan is a good idea for both people and all the animals they care for on a farm or ranch.
The preparedness and response plan should be customized to the type of operation and possible threats. For instance, an element of a fire response plan would be the mechanics of relocating stock to a safer location. If not possible, a defensible area, that both people and animals could be moved to, would be designated. In advance, this area should be cleared of excess material with fire fueling potential, have perimeters established, and have ready access to water.
As part of the plan a livestock disaster preparedness kit should be developed. Elements of the kit should be accessible and in good working order. Below are suggested items:
· Truck and trailer
· Halters, leads, and rope
· Pet crates
· Hay, feed, and water that can be transported
· Non-perishable food items and water for personnel
· Containers to feed and water
· Trashcan with lid and trash bags
· Livestock marking crayon and bright colored spray paint
· Pocket knives, wire cutters/fencing pliers, hammer, shovel, and bolt cutters
· Gloves and bandanas
· Baling wire and duct tape
· Flashlights with batteries
· Radio with batteries
· Backup phone chargers
· Portable panels
· First aid kit with medications and bandage material for humans and animals
· Verifiable animal records, identification, and registration documents
· Emergency contact numbers including veterinarian
Part of the disaster plan should outline communication of all personnel before, during, and after the threat. More than one travel route should be established when evacuation is required. This approach also allows safety of personnel to stay top-of-mind during a response. Regular review of the plan and training exercises are encouraged so all members of the family or team are on the same page and know when and where to report.
Farmers and ranchers are resilient people and understand the importance of preparing for all kinds of circumstances. Emergency preparedness well in advance of a threat allows producers to respond in a manner that minimizes losses and hopefully allows recovery to occur in a more timely and efficient manner. More emergency response and preparedness guidance can be found at www.extensiondisaster.net.