AMES, Iowa -- Cattle producers in many parts of Iowa are shifting rapidly from drought conditions to extremely wet and flood conditions, and they have a new set of issues to manage. Water-logged facilities, flooded pastures, earthen basins that are full and financial issues are immediate concerns. The Iowa Beef Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are addressing producers concerns in multiple ways, including online resources.
“One of the first things to check is the structural strength of the livestock buildings, electrical equipment and safety of the water systems,” said Beth Doran, beef program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “The potential for flooded or spilled pesticides, fuel or oil spills and flooded grain bins should also be monitored.”
Doran also reminds producers that flood conditions can affect the health of animals. Producers should watch for symptoms of lameness, fever, difficulty breathing, muscle contractions or swelling of the shoulders, chest, back, neck or throat.
“The potential exists for grazing cattle to swallow storm debris, such as nails or staples,” she said. “Consequently, cattle should be monitored for hardware disease.”
Pasture management is critical. Remove any debris and return cattle to the pasture when the ground is dry and solid. Returning cattle too soon results in trampled pastures and damaged plants. If areas of the pasture or hay ground are eroded or silt- or sand-covered, reseeding may be necessary.
For feedlots, the issue is manure containment structures that are full and possibly over-topping. Transfer manure from full storage structures to alternative structures, if available. If no alternative storage is available, contact regional staff at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to discuss emergency measures. For more assistance, contact your local extension beef specialist. A list of specialists is available at www.extension.iastate.edu/ag/beef .
“There is no doubt that people who experienced flooding were affected financially,” said Doran. “Fortunately, the new Farm Bill contains several kinds of disaster assistance programs for livestock producers.” Livestock producers with livestock losses should contact their local United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. Applicants will be asked to provide documentation of the number and kind of livestock that have died.
Dealing with Flooding – 2014 is the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach website with resources for dealing with flooded gardens, drinking well, basements and many other home cleanup, health and safety issues that come with home flooding – including stress. Find a link to it at www.extension.iastate.edu. Extension and Outreach also operates the Iowa Concern Hotline that offers 24-hour confidential assistance related to stress, legal questions and financial concerns. To reach a stress counselor call or 800-447-1985, or visit the website at www.extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern/ to "live chat" with counselors.