You've reached the Virginia Cooperative Extension Newsletter Archive.
These files cover more than ten years of newsletters posted on our old website
(through April/May 2009), and are provided for historical purposes only.
As such, they may contain out-of-date references and broken links.
To see our latest newsletters and current information, visit our website at
Newsletter Archive index:
Disaster Planning: Barn Safety
Livestock Update, July 1998
Larry A. Lawrence, Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech
Plan, Plan, Plan. You never can stop planning ahead for an unknown disaster. Have a plan in place before the disaster. The plan can start with a safety inspection of your farm premises. The inspection should include:
- Are the service boxes in a dry, dust-free location and mounted on fire resistant materials?
- Are the electrical fixtures free of dust, dirt, cob webs, chaff, hay or combustible materials?
Heating and cooling systems:
- Are they designed for barns and stables?
- Are they properly installed?
- Are the storage tanks located away from buildings at least 40 feet away?
- Are the tanks properly grounded?
- Are there fire extinguishers near tanks?
- Are the tanks protected from collision by vehicular traffic?
- Are there clean up protocols for spills?
Are your barns and buildings free of weeds, grass and debris?
- Is the hay cured prior to being stored?
Are the roofs, walls and windows weather tight?
- Are many fire extinguishers located in every building?
- Are they annually charged?
- Is there 10 pounds ABC or better?
- Are they protected from freezing?
- Is there a phone in all barns with important numbers (fire, police, key personnel)?
- Are there no smoking signs? (Is the rule enforced?)
- Are horses valued over $100,000 stabled in separate barns?
Paddock and pastures:
- Are they free of harmful objects?
- Are there no broken planks, exposed nails, sharp or broken gates?
- Are the horses rotated to break the life cycle of parasites?
- Are the aisles at least 12 feet wide?
- Are the aisles free of harmful objects?
- Are the stalls latched?
- Are the stalls designed to prevent contact with neighboring horses?
- Is the wiring on electrical fixtures (fans, etc.) inaccessible to horses and properly protected?
- Are the grain and feed rooms locked and containers covered?
This is not a complete list. It is a start on your way to a safer environment for your horses.
BEFORE A DISASTER:
Survey your property for the best location for animal confinement. WRITE IT DOWN.
- Alternate water and power sources should be identified. WRITE IT DOWN.
- Cell phone, portable radios, flashlights, extra batteries, portable generators are all good equipment to have on hand.
- Evacuation plans to relocate (route to fairgrounds, other farms, race tracks, humane societies). WRITE IT DOWN.
- A list of all resources -- feed, supplies, vets, EMTs, truckers. Include all emergency telephone numbers (police, fire, hospital -- vet and human -- EMT, poison control). WRITE IT DOWN. Make copies: this information should be available at various locations on the farm.
- Have a current list of the horses on the farm or in the stable.
- What paddock and stall are they in?
- Who are the owners or contact persons and what are their telephone numbers?
- A written procedure on what is to be said to owners/agents in a disaster?
- Records of feeding, vaccinations, Coggins, amount of hay and feed and what kind given to each animal should be available. WRITE IT DOWN.
- Have a procedure on what animals will be saved in an evacuation and what animals will be put out to safety.
- Have a job description of who does what.
- Have a phone tree of all key personnel and make sure they know how to use it.
- Have a drill every quarter in the barn regarding a disaster.
- Who does what? Who calls who? DON'T PANIC.
- Have emergency kits available in farm trucks and tack rooms. Emergency kits should have the necessary supplies to treat almost any kind of minor injury or assist in stopping a major injury from getting worse. You should have a halter shanks, dressings, bandages, medicines, water buckets, flash lights, radios, etc.
WATER / FEED
- Make sure you have enough water and feed for 72 hours. Secure it before the disaster occurs. Most horses drink 5 gallons per 1,000 pound weight and 20 pounds of hay.
- Make sure all horses are identified with halters or neck straps and spray paint names on horses left outside to weather the storm.
- If you evacuate and mark horses, make sure you have enough feed and hay for 48 hours. Call prior to movement to other farms to make sure the site is still available. Bring the emergency kit with you.
- If you leave horses behind, make sure they have water and hay for 48 to 72 hours. Leave them in an area that you have determined appropriate for the disaster situation.
- Make a list of the animals that you evacuate and where they go. Be sure they are identified.
- Reinforce the emergency training drills you have done at the farm prior to the disaster.
Plan. Plan. Plan. WRITE IT DOWN.
DURING A DISASTER
Be calm don't panic -- remember the emergency drill procedures
- Get information from the Emergency Broadcast System. Know the station. Use a battery operated radio if the power is off.
- If you evacuate and take horses, take all important records, feeds, etc. Call prior to shipping to make sure emergency location is still available.
- If you leave horses behind make sure they are turned out in a pre-selected area that would be appropriate for the disaster situation.
- Leave enough hay and water for 48 to 72 hours. Power may be lost: a large water tub would be a better choice than automatic waterer.
- Identify all horses with halters and possible splint boots or bandages with information on the horse inside.
DO NOT PANIC
- Horses will be aware of the disaster by the way you act and the environment they will be in.
- Call all owners / agents regarding the disaster. Keep them updated if possible. Use a script or prepared statement when you call.
AFTER A DISASTER
- Call all owners/agents regarding the disaster, even if there is no damage to your property.
- Check fencing, pastures and gates for sharp objects.
- Be aware of wild animals and snakes. They could be a danger to you and the horses.
- If horses are lost, contact local farms, veterinarians, humane societies. Listen to the Emergency Broadcast System for people who are accepting lost animals.
- Be careful in approaching animals that have gone through a disaster. They may be frightened and unruly.
- Check with your veterinarian and the Department of Agriculture for information about possible disease outbreaks.
- Check all feed.
- Inventory all horses.
It is very important to plan and have written procedures in place before the disaster: phone numbers, cellular phones, flashlights, generators, emergency kits.
Have drills every quarter to sharpen the employees' and owners' skills.
Credit: American Medical Equestrian Association. May, 1998
Virginia Cooperative Extension