Prepare Plans and Farms for Hurricane Season

With the hurricane season upon us, Louisiana State University (LSU) is reminding horse owners of steps they can take to ready themselves in advance for evacuation, as well as other recommended tasks related to hurricane preparedness.

Here are some tips from the Louisiana State Animal Response Team and LSU School of Veterinary Medicine for effectively preparing horse owners in areas prone to hurricane damage:

  • Be sure your horse is current regarding vaccinations for tetanus and the encephalitis viruses (Eastern, Western, and West Nile).
  • Network a "plan" with the horse or farm animal-owning neighbors in your parish. Get to know your neighbors, plan a meeting, talk through different scenarios, and identify the local resources for dealing with disaster situations. Be prepared to help one another.
  • Be sure that your horse has two forms of identification: (1) Permanent identification such as a microchip, tattoo, or brand, and (2) Luggage-type tags secured to the tail and halter. Be sure to use a leather halter for break-away purposes. Fetlock tags are also useful and can be acquired on-line or from a local farm supply store. Be sure to print your name, address, and a phone number (the phone number of someone out of state might be best in the event of phone outages) legibly on the tags.
  • Be sure to store the record of permanent identification, such as the microchip number, in an accessible location. It is recommended that horse owners keep a second copy of this information with a family member or friend in a distant location, but through which it will be easily accessible.
  • If you plan to evacuate (and you should always evacuate if possible) in the event of a storm, have a destination and route(s) mapped out well in advance. It is important to evacuate your horses a sufficient distance from the coast. A good general guideline in Louisiana is north of Interstate 10. Arrange to leave a minimum of 72 hours before the arrival of the storm. The worst thing that can happen to you is to get stuck in traffic with a trailer full of horses and a hurricane approaching. Provide your neighbors with the contact information they can sue to reach you at your evacuation site.
  • Prepare a waterproof emergency animal care kit with all the items you normally use, including medications, salves or ointments, vetwrap, bandages, tape, etc. Place the kit in a safe place where you can easily access it after a storm.
  • Clean up your property and remove all debris that might be tossed around by storm- and hurricane-force winds. Be careful of down power lines which can be "live" and represent a danger to people and animals.

If you plan to weather the storm at home, there are some general guidelines to follow:

  • The choice of keeping your horse in a barn or an open field is up to you. Use common sense, taking into consideration barn structure, trees, power lines, condition of surrounding properties, and the likelihood of the property and structure to flood. Farms subject to storm surge or flash flooding should turn their horses out so horses are not trapped.
  • Remove all items from the barn aisle and walls, and store them in a safe place.
  • Have at least a two- to three-week supply of hay and feed. Wrap or cover hay in plastic tarps, and store feed in plastic water-tight containers.
  • Place these supplies in the highest and driest area possible, out of reach of floodwaters.
  • Fill clean plastic garbage cans with fresh water, secure the tops, and store them in the barn for use after the storm.
  • Have an emergency barn kit containing a chain saw and fuel, hammers, a saw, nails, screws, and fencing materials. Place this kit in a secure area before the storm hits so that it is easily accessible after the storm.
  • Be sure to have an ample supply of flashlights and batteries.
  • Listen to local radio stations in your area. If Internet access is available, access state-run Web sites that contain accurate status information (i.e., State Police, State University, State Department of Agriculture). Take all cautions and warnings seriously and act accordingly.

Visit for more detailed information regarding horse hurricane preparations and other emergency and health-related information.

For more tips for veterinary clinics and large equine facilities, see "Preparing a Veterinary Practice for a Hurricane."

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