Livestock safety in disasters

Famer feeding his cattle

Bushfires, floods, heatwaves and other weather events can have serious impacts on people, property and animals.

The safety of your livestock is your responsibility.

Planning ahead will reduce stress, allow clearer thinking and improve the chances of keeping you and your livestock safe.

Prepare a plan

If you own livestock, they must be included in your household or business emergency and evacuation plan. Consider the following:

  • Understand your risk: to see your property’s flooding and bushfire potential, use the Moreton Bay Flood Viewer and the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Bushfire Postcode Checker.
  • Determine triggers: decide on the triggers that will activate your plan such as fire danger ratings or flood height predictions.
  • Identification of animals: this may include branding, ear tags and ear tattoos. Temporary or additional methods can include chalk markers. Keep copies of stock information, proof of ownership, and photographs of animals in your emergency kit.
  • Prepare your property: maintain your property all year round to reduce the impacts of disasters.
  • Identify and prepare a ‘safer’ area on your property: where livestock can be located away from danger. It should have safe access to food, water and, where possible, multiple access points. Make sure livestock are located on higher ground during flooding. 
  • Identify multiple relocation sites: form agreements for relocation and include this in your emergency and evacuation plan. Identify all transport routes to and from the property.
  • Create emergency checklists: to ensure you have the resources and their location identified for urgent access. Remember, access to supplies and animal assistance may be limited during a disaster, so it is important you have the resources in place.

Tips for your plan

  • Register for MoretonAlert to receive free alerts and warnings.
  • Have a list of emergency contacts including a local vet and agricultural supply store.
  • Have safe transport options and routes if livestock will be relocated. Include backup options.
  • Have designated ‘safer’ areas on the property if livestock will not be relocated.
  • Have stocks of food, water and medical supplies for at least 3 – 7 days.
  • Have alternative water and power sources. 
  • Have back-up communication options.
  • Register as a biosecurity entity.
  • Make sure the property's biosecurity can be maintained in a disaster event.
  • Make sure family, staff or neighbours are aware of the plan and can enact it on your behalf.
  • Practice the plan regularly to confirm that it works.

Pack a kit

Prepare an emergency and/or evacuation kit for your livestock and put it in an accessible place. Depending on the type of animal, your kit may include:

  • important documents (including an online and hard copy of your plan)
  • 3 to 7 days of feed, water and medical supplies
  • halters
  • leads
  • rugs.

Relocating livestock

Do not wait for emergency warnings – they may come too late.

Put your plan into action early to protect you and your livestock. Plan in advance which animals you will relocate and ensure you have enough yard and loading facilities with access to suitable transport vehicles.

Remember, animals may behave differently in a disaster, potentially making them difficult to handle or load. Relocating them early will minimise this issue.

Do not risk the safety of yourself, others or your livestock by driving, walking or riding through flood waters or active fire-zones.

Livestock remaining on your property

If you intend to evacuate your property and cannot take your animals with you, ensure that:

  • power sources that may increase risk are turned off
  • livestock have sufficient and accessible stocks of food, medication and water for at least 3 to 7 days
  • water is available in heat resistant troughs and containers. Do not rely on automatic systems
  • livestock are moved to your properties ‘safer’ area as soon as possible
  • livestock are moved to higher ground if there is a risk of flooding
  • flammable items are removed from the area, especially near where livestock might be kept
  • internal fencing is clipped open if a ‘safer’ area is unavailable to give animals the opportunity to escape danger
  • animals are never tethered outside or let loose on roads
  • rugs, fly-veils and halters are removed from horses as these can often burn or melt
  • metal shoes are removed from horses to protect them from serious hoof injuries and damage from heat
  • animals are identifiable, such as with an ear tag or livestock chalk
  • loose objects are secured around the property.

Displaced and lost livestock

During disaster events, livestock may become displaced or lost when stables, sheds and fences are damaged or destroyed.

Lost animals should be returned to their property as soon as practical. Livestock that are found to be injured must be provided with treatment and care as per the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001.

After a disaster

  • If animals were evacuated, do not bring them back to the property until the area is safe.
  • Do a thorough search of the property to assess livestock and assets.
  • Be mindful of any hazards that could impact your livestock, including hot or boggy ground.
  • Check for injuries and seek veterinarian advice or assistance immediately if required.
  • Ensure your livestock are safely contained, which may require temporary fencing or relocation.
  • Ensure adequate food and fresh water is available and not contaminated.
  • Damaged buildings should be cleaned, aired out and may need to be disinfected.
  • Monitor and treat for symptoms of pest or disease.
  • Use the experiences gained to continually improve your emergency plan. 

Important contacts

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