Floods and farm animal health: Tips for farmers returning to their land after floods

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 Here are some important tips for farmers who are returning to their land after a flood:
Check your property carefully:
  • Survey damage to your barns and other structures; assess the stability and safety. Only enter buildings if deemed safe.
  • Thoroughly search the property for debris. Before releasing any animals, remove any potentially dangerous debris that could injure your animals.
Check your animals:
  • Keep any returning animals isolated from the main herd, especially if they were in contact with other animals.
  • Dehydration can be a problem, with stock often refusing to drink if water is polluted or tastes different from their normal supply. Watch your stock carefully to ensure they are drinking adequately.
  • Provide clean, uncontaminated feed and water. Do not allow animals to drink stagnant, flood-contaminated water as it could contain high levels of bacteria.
  • Do not use any feed or forage that may have been contaminated by chemical or pesticides.
Keep a close eye on animal health:
  • Monitor animals daily for signs of illness. Sudden illness or deaths should be reported at once to veterinarians or provincial government authorities
  • Floodwaters may transport bacteria that cause diseases such as: blackleg, fungal diseases, leptospirosis, tetanus, anthrax, and foot-rot. Contact your veterinarian if you observe signs of illness.
  • Animals returning to previously flooded pastures are at risk to clostridial disease such as blackleg. All cattle should receive a vaccination for clostridial disease, so consult with your veterinarian.
  • Foot problems are a concern with all stock susceptible after long periods of immersion in water or standing on wet, muddy ground. Abscesses and other foot problems will be common when an animal’s feet are constantly wet. If possible, move your livestock to drier pastures.
  • Pneumonia and diarrhoea are also likely to occur in flood-affected stock due to stress and exposure to prolonged cold.
  • All cuts and scratches should be treated preventively, because of the danger of tetanus.
  • Record any animal deaths, dispose of dead animals according to municipal and provincial regulations.
Make sure your equipment and water supplies are clean:
  • Clean and disinfect bulk storage bins and other feed equipment. If flood-waters have entered the bin via the auger ports, dispose of feed, and clean and disinfect the bin.
  • Test the water supply as soon as possible.
  • Poultry or swine producers who want to clean up flooded barns should follow cleaning procedures much like those used between flocks or all-in all- systems.
  • Producers should be aware of mould growth in damp grain and hay. Mouldy grain and forage is a potential health hazard for livestock. Avoid feeding mouldy feed to young, lactating or pregnant animals. These animals are most at risk to mould related problems.
Don't forget your own safety. During cleanup, should an injury (even cuts and scrapes) occur, tetanus immunization should be sought.
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Brad Andres.
This document is maintained by Kelly Bernard.
This information published to the web on June 21, 2013.
Last Reviewed/Revised on June 7, 2018.