March 25th, 2024

Barn First Aid, Safety & Emergency Preparedness

Here at Palouse Ranches, we’re big on the well-being of your livestock. We’ve got your critters covered, but let’s talk about how to tackle their safety, health, and what to do in an emergency.

If you’re a seasoned rancher or new homesteader, you can’t go wrong with equipping yourself with first aid skills, safety protocols, and emergency plans. Whether you raise horses, goats, sheep, cattle, chickens, pigs (or all of the above)…preparing for emergencies is essential. The PNW has seen unprecedented fires and arctic blasts and let’s face it; horses, are always trying to get themselves hurt. So, let’s get to planning!

Assessing First Aid Needs:

  • Different livestock species may have unique health considerations. Familiarize yourself with the specific medical needs and common ailments of your animals.
  • Understand the signs of distress or illness in each species, including symptoms of colic, bloat, lameness, respiratory issues, and more.
  • While basic first aid skills are invaluable, certain emergencies require immediate medical/veterinary attention. Have emergency vet & 911 information posted in your barn & trailers!

Building Your First Aid Kit (you may choose to omit/add more to your kit): 

  • A well-stocked first aid kit is the cornerstone of emergency preparedness. Essentials for your kit may include:
  • Bandages: Various sizes of sterile gauze pads (2×2, 4×4, rolled gauze), adhesive bandages, and many rolls of vet wrap/Coban
  • Wound treatments: Sterline saline solution for wound flush, betadine, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and Vetericyn are good go-to solutions depending on the injury
  • Tools & Supplies: Trauma scissors, hemostats, tweezers, stethoscope, a thermometer & lubricant, sterile gloves, hot & cold packs, large & small single-use (clean) syringes (for flushing, fluids, etc)
  • Syringe recommendations: 60-cc dose syringes with a catheter tip for oral medications & 10-cc syringes with hypodermic needles for injections
  • Medications: Consult your veterinarian for specific medications suitable for your livestock, such as oral electrolytes, antibiotics, or anti-inflammatories and keep some on hand
  • Emergency Contact Information: Keep a list of emergency veterinary contacts and nearby animal hospitals in your kit.

Additional Supplies to Have On Hand:

  • Human first aid supplies: tourniquets, additional bandages/band aids, eye wash solutions, CPR masks, and emergency medications are good additions to have on hand!
  • Spare halter(s)/lead rope(s)
  • Flashlight & spare batteries
  • Duct tape
  • Pliers & wire cutters / multi-tool
  • Pocket knife
  • Zip-loc style bags
  • Chux Pads
  • Clean bucket for soaking/washing
  • Blankets or towels for providing warmth or padding during transport
  • Hoof picks
  • Epsom salts for soaking hooves or treating abscesses
  • Fire extinguisher

Emergency Plan for Natural Disasters:

  • Develop a comprehensive emergency plan tailored to your geographical area and potential natural disasters.
  • Identify safe evacuation routes, transport, and designated shelter/ stable areas.
  • Consider a mane/tail emergency ID tag for horses, mules, and donkeys like ManeStay. Alternative options for marking livestock include a paint or marker stick (non-toxic, won’t wash off), microchips, ear tags, and ID tags/luggage tags on breakaway halters/collars.
  • Ensure access to adequate food, water, and medical supplies during emergencies: have resources and supplies available in your home, barn, trailer, and vehicles.
  • Practice emergency drills regularly to familiarize yourself and your animals with evacuation procedures. If you have neighbors – collaborate on the best plan to reduce traffic & get yourselves and your animals all out safely & efficiently.

Remember, proactive preparation is essential for ensuring the health and well-being of your animals. While we hope you never have to implement these measures, having a plan in place will contribute to creating a safe environment for both you and your livestock.

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