JAM | May 31, 2023

Hurricane preparedness tips for livestock farmers

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Jamaican Red Poll Cattles (Stock Photo).

Jamaica, similar to its Caribbean neighbours, is prone to the devastating impact of hurricanes and tropical storms because of its geographic location in the Atlantic Basin which consists of the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

In less than 24 hours the Atlantic hurricane is set to begin (June 1) and will run until November 30th.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) and Central Pacific Hurricane Center have predicted a near-normal hurricane season this year, with 12 to 17 named storms. Five to nine of those named storms are predicted to become hurricanes and one to four major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph (179 kph) or higher.

Historically, Jamaica has had its fair share of hurricanes and tropical storms that have had devastating impacts on people, property and livestock.

One such notable hurricane was Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. It was a category 5 hurricane packing maximum sustained winds of 256 kilometres/hour, with the eye passing directly over Jamaica wiping out 7,500 acres of banana crops for export. In the aftermath, thousands of citizens were left homeless and some 45 deaths were attributed to the storm’s passage through the country.

Unfortunately, hurricanes and tropical storms are natural disasters that cannot be prevented, but the right preparation measures can help mitigate the impacts of these natural disasters.

Hurricane preparation often includes taking measures to protect property and stocking up on necessities should a hurricane hit with little to no consideration given to livestock management. Today (May 31) Our Today will provide some helpful tips for livestock farmers to help prepare for the upcoming hurricane.

Jamaican Red Poll cattle ( Stock Photo).

Before the hurricane

  • Ensure livestock are properly tagged,
  • Ensure livestock are vaccinated,
  • Stock up on animal feed, portable water, batteries, disaster kits, medicine and tools,
  • Designate a safe area to transport livestock to before the hurricane,
  • Identify evacuation routes for trucks or trailers that would be transporting livestock,
  • Practice getting animals acquainted with loading ramps to trucks and trailers to make the process flow smoothly in case they must be evacuated to a safe area.

During the hurricane

  • Do not attempt to evacuate during a hurricane
  • Listen to radio advisories and bulletins for updates on the hurricane
  • Keep animals in a confined area
  • Keep animals away from river banks and streams
  • Observe pregnant animals who are near term closely as severe weather conditions may cause them to give birth.

After the hurricane

  • Ensure water and feed are not contaminated by pollutants
  • Dispose of contaminated water and animal feed
  • Spray livestock with insect repellants to prevent mosquitos
  • Observe livestock for possible diseases
  • If you have lost an animal reach do not be alarmed, reach out to surrounding farmers or community members who may have seen the animal.
  • If you have found someone else’s animal, keep the animal in a confined area then alert your local community group or local authorities.

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