Flood Checklist and Resources for Cattle Producers

Beth Doran, ISU Extension and Outreach Beef Field Specialist
712-737-4230712-737-4230 or


Flood Checklist and Resources for Cattle Producers

What a difference two weeks can make! Cattle producers have gone from extremely dry conditions to extremely wet and flood conditions. 

Water levels are receding, but there are still a number of issues for cattle producers - water-logged facilities, flooded pastures, earthen basins that are full and financial issues. To help producers cope with this myriad of issues, the Iowa Beef Center has a developed a website with flood-related resources located at www.iowabeefcenter.org.

One of the first things to check is the structural strength of the livestock buildings, electrical equipment and safety of the water systems. The potential for flooded or spilled pesticides, fuel or oil spills and flooded grain bins should also be monitored.       

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. 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.

There is no doubt that people who experienced flooding were affected financially. Fortunately, the new Farm Bill contains several kinds of disaster assistance programs for livestock producers.  Livestock producers with livestock losses are encouraged to 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. 

And, flooding surely increases the stress level of those severely impacted. But, help is available.  Iowa State University Extension and Outreach maintains the Iowa Concern Hotline that offers 24-hour confidential assistance related to stress, legal questions and financial concerns.  It can be accessed at 800-447-1985800-447-1985, or visit the website at www.extension.iastate.edu/iowaconcern/ to live chat with operators.

For other flood related questions, such as home cleanup, health and safety, mold or private wells, ISU Extension and Outreach has a great listing of flood resources at www.extension.iastate.edu.  


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