Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ideas for Formulating Farm Disaster Plans

A solid barn for anywhere that endures a real winter is a good idea.  This barn is almost as solid as most housing for human beings.           Picture: Copyright Crow Hill Farm

This is a barn in which human beings live upstairs, and the animals live downstairs.    
    Picture: Copyright Louisa Barns and Buildings.

This is a kennel for dogs for both winter and hot summers. A structure such as this could be used for goats or chickens.  Keep in mind that most of the time, different species of animals should not be housed together, with some notable exceptions.       Picture: Copyright Crow Hill Farm


I mentioned in a prior post the need to formulate a more complex disaster plan for a small or a larger farm. Since a few of you have farms, this is something we should cover. Every farm needs a disaster plan. Planning for disasters at a farm follows the same basic steps as preparing for disasters with a family.  Many emergencies dictate that one should shelter in place with animals, and some emergencies dictate that you and your family should evacuate with them.   The plan you formulate should be personalized and  should be typed up using your computer. You should have clearly defined plans, first for how you would shelter in place, (Move dogs to Point A, and ducks to point B etc.) and secondly for how you would evacuate. (Move horses to horse trailer and move to Bob A's, while J. moves cats in the truck)  First, place your attention on customizing a good plan for sheltering in place with your animals, as would be necessary for a severe winter storm, perhaps an ice storm, torrential rain, etc. Every farms animals, geography, and resources will be different, as will the most common hazards encountered there. Each plan will therefore need to be a bit different. This written plan, will need to be updated annually, and placed in a notebook, and then reviewed with you and anyone else who works or lives on your farm. Once you have an animal plan for sheltering in place, you must construct one for farm emergency evacuation. On our farm for example, this is exceedingly difficult. Large animals often require multiple people and multiple transport vehicles in order to be evacuated. They need food, water, hay, and sometimes medicines. Males and females may need to be transported separately, mothers along with babies, and some males must be transported separately from others. For the first couple of years we were on this particular farm we had no real way of evacuating all of them. Now, we have the right vehicles and the right trucks, but we would need absolutely all hands on deck, and some good luck too. Evacuation could be triggered in many places that house animals by anything from a small plane crash, to a wildfire, to flooding. We have evacuated twice as a drill, and it's an exceedingly difficult and expensive undertaking here. Still, it is essential to do this for our animals, and much learning will take place. Annually, update both your farm sheltering in place plans, and your farm evacuation plans.

The following is a very basic farm disaster check-list from Gateway Alpacas in Oregon. They were discussing farm evacuation and farm disaster preparedness before anyone else, except perhaps myself.

From Gateway Farms

An emergency and disaster planning checklist is a good way to insure that all the bases have been covered in emergency planning. What follows should not be considered to be complete or authoritative, but rather as a starting point for sound farm emergency planning.
The following documents should be prepared as part of disaster planning. Copies should be kept where they are easily accessible in the case of evacuation, or by other people that may respond to the emergency in the owners stead.

Farm Owner-Emergency Responsibilities - Who will be responsible for what in the case of an emergency?
Farm Asset Information - A complete list of assets, useful for insurance and during disaster recovery , At a minimum it should include:
Basic Farm Information
Site Plan of Farm
Inventory of Assets
Business Records
Personal Papers (Identification, banking, wills, etc.)
Emergency Contact Information

Emergency Communications

Emergency Contact List
Alternate Emergency Communication Devices
Pre-arranged Emergency Family Meeting Place

Health, Safety and Food for the Farm Family

Emergency Home Food Supplies
Emergency Home Water Supplies
First Aid Kit
Camping Supplies and Tools for Emergency Use
Standby Power System - Home
Minimum Power Equipment for the Home
Backup Standby Power Arrangements

Health, Safety, Water and Feed Supplies for Livestock/Poultry

Adequate emergency water supplies for animals/livestock
Adequate emergency feed supplies for animals/livestock
Livestock Inventory
Prioritized list of livestock for evacuation
Emergency Arrangements for Ensuring Water Supplies
Emergency Arrangements for Ensuring Feed Supplies
Essential Barn Equipment - plans to remove and/or protect
Emergency Arrangements for Ensuring Operation of Barn Equipment
Livestock Evacuation Plan


This is an additional guide book to farm evacuation planning from the University of Florida.

More information on animal evacuation:

A vehicle such as this, and the truck which is capable of pulling it, is necessary on many farms.       Picture by

We use this air conditioned Tailgator hauler for evacuations of alpacas, and trucks for our dogs, cats and poultry. The rear of this unit drops down allowing animals or small vehicles to walk or drive up into the larger area.

This is the interior of the unit set to receive animals.

This is the interior of the unit when people are going to use it.  It can be readied for animals in about eight minutes.