Dealing With Herd Health of Grazing Livestock During Recovery

As a result of Hurricane Michael, water is still high in Wiregrass Region of Alabama with many fields flooded and farms inaccessible. At this time, maintaining herd health is a top priority.

Maintaining Health of Grazing Livestock

  • Death loss as a result of the storm needs to be documented with photos and reported to FSA as part of an application to the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). This includes death losses directly related to the storm (e.g. a barn collapsing) or indirectly related (e.g. inadequate feed and/or water for days or weeks after the storm).
  • Be aware that feeding levels for animals that have been short on feed for several days or a week need to be higher than normal maintenance rations usually fed this time of year. Animals that have lost significant body condition due to feed restriction will need to gain weight significantly and are likely to need supplemental concentrate in addition to good quality hay or pasture. Make sure that a good quality mineral supplement is being provided and that the cattle eating it. These are always our recommendations going into winter, but this year it will be especially important given the elevated level of stress on the livestock.
  • Livestock will be vulnerable to a number of diseases following a flooding event including respiratory disease, clostridial diseases (like black leg), leptospirosis, and infections due to cuts and loss of integrity of skin and hooves as a result of prolonged exposure to standing water or wet conditions. These diseases may result from either increased environmental exposure to the pathogens in question, or due to comingling with other livestock that carry the diseases. Livestock on a good health program will have been vaccinated for most of these diseases, improving the outcome when they undergo stress and pathogen exposure.
  • Animals impacted by the storm that have not been on a good health program (including vaccination for clostridial diseases, leptospirosis and respiratory diseases) should be vaccinated once they have been contained and have received adequate feed for several days.
  • Developing a relationship with a local veterinarian is an incredibly important part of a livestock management program. If a producer does not enjoy that kind of relationship they are encouraged to identify a veterinarian and develop a proactive health program.
  • Remember, maintaining an adequate nutritional plane of impacted animals is a key to development of a high level of immunity to disease when vaccines are administered.

More Information

For assistance with any of the mentioned programs, please contact your local Animal Science and Forage Extension agent. This information can be found at or by contacting your local County Office.

  • Geneva County Extension Office: 334-684-2484
  • Henry County Extension Office: 334-585-6416
  • Dale County Extension Office: 334-774-2329
  • Houston County Extension Office: 334-794-4108

This article was adapted with permission from a previous article by Dr. Matt Poore, North Carolina State University.

Prepared by: Leanne Dillard, Ph.D., Extension Forage Specialist. Auburn University Department of Animal Sciences and Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences, Kim Mullenix, Auburn University Department of Animal Sciences, and Soren Rodning, Auburn University Department of Animal Sciences. Dillard 18-3.


Hurricane Michael Recovery Information

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