PITTSBURG — Recent storms and flooding have had an impact on people throughout Southeast Kansas, but for area farmers, the recent severe weather has raised concerns about their animals as well.
“Floods do have a big impact on livestock,” said Wendie Powell, livestock production agent for Wildcat Extension District. “When cattle are walking, it requires more energy to walk through mud, so their nutritional needs are increased, and often they’re overlooked.”
Standing water can also create problems with pests and insects, including mosquitoes and flies.
Goats have thick enough skin that mosquitoes don’t bother them, and mosquitoes aren’t as severe a problem with cattle as they are for horses, but if horses aren’t vaccinated, West Nile virus can be a problem, Powell said.
Floodwaters also pose a serious risk to livestock feed and hay.
“Whenever feed or hay gets wet, it will mold,” Powell pointed out. There are also dangers that might be less obvious or even counterintuitive.
“If hay, silage, or grain was in contact with flood water that could have come in contact with chemicals from building or cities (any water from rivers or streams) federal regulations state that it should not be fed and should instead be disposed of,” according to information on the website of University of Nebraska — Lincoln.
“Hay bales that get wet can spontaneously catch fire, ones that are 30 to 40 percent moisture content pose the greatest risk of fire,” the University of Nebraska website additionally notes.
“Thus it is a good idea to get flooded hay out of building as soon as possible. To check a stack's temperature for fire risk, drive a sharp pointed pipe into the hay, lower a thermometer inside the pipe and leave it there for about 20 minutes. At 150 degrees F, the hay is approaching the danger zone. At 170 degrees F, hot spots or fire pockets are possible. Because of hay's tendency to heat and mold quickly, hay that was not in contact with moving flood water should be spread out to dry as soon as possible and turned often. If the hay is molded it is best to dispose of it.”