When flood waters begin to recede, producers must continue to use caution when assessing damage and beginning clean-up procedures on the farm.
According to Eldon Cole, livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension, livestock will be exposed to unique hazards created by flood waters.
In addition, agriculture producers must also protect their own health when working in and cleaning up previously flooded areas.
“It is very important that you make sure all animals have a source of clean, uncontaminated water. Animals on pasture may need a different source of water until ponds or creeks clear up,” said Cole.
He says it is also imperative that agriculture producers have their water tested if any part of the farmyard is flooded.
“If using well water for livestock water, be aware that it may also have been contaminated, and the well may need to be disinfected,” said Cole.
Check all sources of feeds and forages for spoiling and contamination. Flood waters can contaminate feeds, forages, and fields. Watch for molds in the field and in stored feed and forages. Feeding of moldy feeds is risky and unhealthy for all animals.
Standing water may have damaged some pastures or parts of pastures. This may have isolated animals and limited forage supply.
“Hungry animals may then eat contaminated or poisonous plants. Therefore, be prepared to supplement feed, when needed, to prevent animals from eating contaminated plant materials,” said Cole.
It is a good practice to make sure all animals are up to date with vaccinations. Agriculture producers may need to administer Blackleg boosters to pastured animals. High-risk, younger animals that were on flooded pastures may benefit from a therapeutic dose of penicillin.
“Animals have been stressed during thunderstorms and resulting flooding. Consider supplementing additional feed or vitamins. Watch closely for signs of illness such as pneumonia and lameness. Make sure all animals are accounted for and are eating,” said Cole.
Is there manure storage on the farm? If so, consider having the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) check for any evidence of weakening or leaking.
Agriculture producers should be extremely wary of electrical equipment that has been exposed to flood water or other moisture.
“Don’t turn the power back on until it has been inspected by a qualified electrician. If you are not certain that the power is off, then never enter flooded areas or touch electrical equipment if the ground is wet,” said Bob Schultheis, MU Extension natural resource engineering specialist.
Flood cleanup may involve the use of gasoline or diesel powered pumps, generators, and pressure washers. It is important to realize these devices do release carbon monoxide, a deadly, colorless, odorless gas.
“Never operate the power unit indoors. It is virtually impossible to ensure adequate ventilation,” said Schultheis.
Farm tractor and equipment operators should be extremely cautious when using towing chains to free or move “stuck” equipment. Hitch only to the drawbar to avoid tipping the tractor over backward.
Use only a long towing chain designed to support the towed load. Check the machine’s operator’s manual for additional safe towing information or check out this link.
By University of Missouri Extension