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EXPERTS PROVIDE HURRICANE PREPARATION GUIDELINES FOR LIVESTOCK OWNERS

COLLEGE STATION – Experts are encouraging livestock owners to take precautions as Hurricane Ike approaches Texas.

Weather reports indicate Ike could cause severe weather in many counties and possibly flood low-lying areas.

“There are several measures that can be carried through in advance to minimize the threat of potential losses to a livestock operation,” said Dr. Jason Cleere, Texas AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist.

The following are some guidelines:

Livestock owners with large numbers of animals not capable of being evacuated by trailer should get animals to high ground. Open gates to pastures as cattle and other livestock instinctively seek higher ground.

“Cattle can also be physically driven out of low-lying areas and to higher ground to avoid a flooded area,” Cleere said.

Avoid putting animals in barns or other dwellings due to potential high winds, he said.

“Turn them out into large lots, pens or pasture,” Cleere said. “They can seek cover on their own in brushy areas.”

Livestock owners who own small numbers of animals which can be evacuated by trailer should make sure tires are properly inflated and flooring is in good condition.

“Don't overcrowd the trailer,” Cleere said. “It's best to leave some behind rather than have one go down and get hurt.”

Prior to leaving the ranch, pick up debris that might become a hazard in the event of high winds, Cleere said. Strap down feeders, trailers and other items that might blow into a barn, home or other dwelling.

Make sure there is adequate feed and water for a couple of weeks.

“If this is a devastating storm and there is substantial flooding, cattle could become stranded and forages may be ruined,” Cleere said.

In some instances, supplemental sources of feed may be necessary, he said.

“Hay is important," he said. " Basically, hay can be self fed and cattle can sustain on their own for a period of time. Also, think about water sources. Make sure those animals have sufficient sources of good water.”

The Texas Animal Health Commission, the state's livestock and poultry health regulatory agency, is advising those evacuating for Hurricane Ike to call the state's '2-1-1' number for information on available facilities for emergency sheltering of livestock.

"Hurricane Preparedness for Livestock," an AgriLife Extension bookstore publication, is available in both English (reference number E-166) and Spanish (reference number E-166S) versions at http://agrilifebookstore.org/. Videos on this topic are available at http://agnews.tamu.edu/issues/hurricane/videoandaudio.php.

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