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Cattle in the rain

AUBURN, Ala. – When severe weather passes through an area, producers must take their livestock’s health into consideration. In addition to providing adequate feed and water, producers must look for any injuries livestock may have sustained and deadly poisons, chemicals and plants in livestock pastures and facilities.

Feed and Water

The first thing producers need is a plan to ensure their animals have a supply of feed and fresh water.

Dr. Soren Rodning, an Alabama Extension veterinarian, said that water is a critical need for livestock.

“Cattle can survive several days without feed and even weeks to months with limited feed,” Rodning said. “However, water is a more critical need for livestock. They need daily access to fresh, clean water. Livestock may experience dehydration and digestive upsets if they drink water with high salinity levels.”

Disease and Injuries

Assessing the condition of livestock after a storm is extremely important. Injuries and diseases are major causes for concern.

“Severely injured or sick animals may require veterinary treatment or euthanasia. In dairy cattle, mastitis might be a problem, especially if their milking routine is disrupted,” Rodning said. “If animals need treatment, inspect working facilities for damage before using them.”


After a storm, cattle might have access to toxic chemicals or plants that they would normally not have. Rodning said producers must act fast to prevent their livestock from consuming these chemicals or plants.

“A storm may damage chemical storage buildings as well as fences. This may allow cattle to access these toxic chemicals, which can lead to sickness or death,” Rodning said. “Toxic plants, such as wild cherry or red maple trees, are also a threat. Producers must make sure that the storm did not blow these plants into pastures or in reach of livestock.”

More Information

The Alabama Extension website has many resources about different elements of livestock health. Visit www.aces.edu for more information.

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