Sunday, December 10, 2023

Keeping farms safe during bad weather

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By Katie Keiger

Poultry Times staff

GAINESVILLE, Ga. — A 50-year-old farm in Virginia was heavily damaged in a storm in less than an hour — a sadly common occurrence in the farming industry.

While the USDA and other agencies have plenty of resources to help rebuild and recover afterwards, preparing for bad weather can severely reduce the amount of damage taken.

Keeping farmhouses safe

Since many farmers live where they work, a shelter, or multiple shelters should be identified for people to go to. In the case of a flood, the attic or highest place would be ideal, and in the case of a tornado a basement or secure closet with no windows. If there are multiple shelter areas, both should be stocked with supplies.

According to MidAtlantic Farm Credit, one gallon of water should be supplied for each person for each day the shelter will be in use.

Flashlights, batteries, medications and non-perishable foods should be kept, as well as heat sources like a radiator or blankets. Generators are also useful though they are expensive and require fuel sources.

Securing animals

The hundreds or thousands of birds or cattle require a bit more attention to be kept safe during storms. Though it can be difficult, moving the animals to a safer area away from the farm might be the best solutions.

Moving large animals such as cows should be done three days in advance of a storm, according to Tractor Supply Co. The animals will also require food and water for the trip, at least five gallons of water a day and 15 pounds of food per cow, or one pound of gallon and two pounds of food per sheep and pigs.

Not all storms can be predicted days in advance, but there are plenty of other ways to ensure the animals are safe even during natural disasters.

Most storms are not so severe that the winds are able to tear down walls, but even small cracks can provide openings for nervous chickens and turkeys to escape from.

If possible, farmers could make temporary housing in garages or places with thicker walls. Medicine, food, water and any other supplies should be stored in an area close to the animals.

Virginia Technical College suggests to mark or tag animals to make sure they can be easily returned if they run off the farm. The identifier should have the name of the farm and phone number.

Reducing damage

Farmers should ensure that everything that can be secured down is secured down. Doors and flaps should be locked, and lose branches around the farm should be checked to make sure they cannot be easily knocked down and cause more damage.

Feed and pesticides should be stored in high, secure places to avoid being washed away in floods or being scattered around in the environment. Equipment and machinery should also be moved inside or away from trees which could knock over and damage them.

As farms tend to be located next to other farms, coordinating with other farmers about possible shared resources is a good thing to do before the storm, and that keeping phone numbers to veterinarians or county Extension services is always a good thing to keep on hand.

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