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Northwest Iowa Dairy Outlooks

A local discussion of current science and issues concerning dairying in northwest iowa

Recent heavy rains have prompted state and local officials to declare states of disaster across a large number of Texas counties. “Local producers and animal owners recognize that whether they are in a disaster area or not, they have added management issues to deal with because of the saturated conditions,” says Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent Fred M. Hall in Tarrant County. After the immediate threat associated with fast moving flood water, cattle, horses and poultry all have special needs if they have been exposed to standing water. “Observations for flood-related disease, illness from consuming spoiled feed and injury from debris left by flood-waters are added to the daily husbandry of animal owners,” notes Hall.

Cattle that have been stranded by floodwater and have been off their regular feeding schedules need extra care and observation. Make sure they have access to clean water, dry feed and un-spoiled forage. Watch for signs of flood-related diseases, such as lameness, fever, difficulty breathing, muscle contractions or swelling of shoulder, chest, back, neck or throat.

Cattle on wet ground are more likely to contract pneumonia, foot rot or leptospirosis. Subsequent flies and mosquito population explosions add to this threat. Make certain that vaccination programs are current since soil and water-borne diseases can be present in flooded areas for months following the flood.

Hay bales that were is standing water can be hazardous and unsafe for animal consumption. Since wet hay will heat and mold, cattle should be moved away from those bales and the bales moved away from buildings in case of combustion.

Before returning livestock to land that has been flooded, check for stray metal objects like nails, fence staples. Pieces of barded wire and siding that was washed into pastures. Running a field magnet over the property and placing magnets in cattle can minimize the risk or hardware disease. Debris often collects along fence lines and in corners, so those areas of the field need special attention.

Keeping cattle away from wet areas until the ground is solid protects forage plants from damage and prevents weak and smaller animals from bogging down in the mud.

Rats and other rodents may move into buildings during a flood. Snakes often follow the rodents so when re-entering flooded building be wary of what may greeting you when you open the door.

More information can be found on the Texas Extension Disaster Education Network at:

Additional information is available at the Tarrant County Extension Agriculture website at:


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