Preparing Horse Farms for Winter Weather Disasters

Plan ahead to keep family, employees, and horses safe during a winter weather disaster.
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Preparing Horse Farms for Winter Weather Disasters
Planning will help keep family, employees, and horses safe in the event of a winter weather disaster. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Loss of electricity, impassable roads, and breaks in communications can, however, happen in any climate, at any time, due to floods, straightline winds, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. The start of a new year is a good time to review farm disaster plans. Planning will help keep family, employees, and horses safe in the event of a winter weather disaster.

Human health and safety must come first, so having a family disaster plan should precede preparation of horse facilities. At RedCross.org you will find a wealth of resources on family disaster preparedness. Information on business disaster planning is available at Ready.gov.

Water and electricity are major considerations. Water is essential to the health of horses, especially when they can drink 8 to 12 gallons per day. Do not expect a horse to be able to get its required water intake by eating snow, even if there is plenty around. A loss of electricity means no lighting in the barn, but sometimes more importantly, no power can cause several problems related to horses’ water intake. First, without power, you cannot pump well water, which might be horses’ only water source. Second, automatic waterers are run on electricity, which means that without power, you will have to use buckets or water tanks. Third, water pipes can freeze if pipe-heating tape is no longer powered. Finally, to encourage horses to drink more volume in winter, water should be maintained at 45-65°F, which can be a problem without electricity

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