If evacuation is the appropriate choice, preparations should be made as far ahead of time as possible. In most cases it will be impossible to make last minute preparations for such things as animal transportation and shelter. Not only should you prepare ahead of time for the evacuation of your animals, but you should also prepare ahead of time for the safe return of your animals to your farm once the disaster is over.
Transportation can be a major undertaking. Not only does there need to be suitable and sufficient means to evacuate livestock, you must keep in mind that in the case of a major disaster most roads will be crowded with vehicles full of people evacuating the area. It is possible that regaining access to your farm may be difficult, or impossible, making multiple trips to retrieve livestock unlikely. Even with forewarning of an impending disaster, contra-flow on main highways often occurs days ahead of the emergency. All lanes of main highways become evacuation routes heading away from the disaster.
Identify potential evacuation routes, including alternate routes. Contact your local emergency management authority and become familiar with at least two possible evacuation routes well in advance.
Arrange for a place to shelter your animals. Plan ahead and work within your community to establish safe shelters for livestock. Potential facilities include fairgrounds, other farms, racetracks, humane societies, convention centers, and any other safe and appropriate facilities you can find. Survey your community and potential host communities along your planned evacuation route.
Insure that sufficient and suitable transportation is available for humans and animals. Trucks, trailers, and other vehicles suitable for transporting livestock along with experienced handlers and drivers.
Prioritize evacuees prior to any disaster. In other words, if time and/or resources prevent a complete evacuation, determine ahead of time which animals will be evacuated. Evacuate animals as soon as possible. Be ready to leave once the evacuation is ordered. In a slowly evolving disaster, such as a hurricane, leave no later than 72 hours before anticipated landfall, especially if you will be hauling a high-profile trailer such as a horse trailer. If your animals are sheltered off your farm, try to ensure that they remain in groupings they are used to. Also, be sure they are securely contained and sheltered from the elements if necessary, whether in fenced-in areas or buildings.
Plan to turn off electrical power to machines, barns, and other structures that might be damaged or flooded. Secure loose items, such as lumber, logs, pipes, machinery parts, and tools. If you have feed troughs or large containers, fill them with water before any high-wind event.
Plan to remove or protect items to get the operation started again (records and important equipment) and plan to protect assets that cannot be removed as best as possible.
Take all disaster supplies with you or make sure they will be available at your evacuation site. You should have or be able to readily obtain feed, water, veterinary supplies, handling equipment, tools, and generators if necessary.