Emergency Planning - Ways to Prepare for Livestock Evacuations & Wildfires

Fires can have a devasting impact on a farm regardless of small area fires or uncontrolled wildfire. Flames can spread across vast tracts of land, posing a serious threat to livestock in barns, pens, and pastures. With many livestock farmers living in areas with forests, grasslands, and fields etc. OSF recommends producers take steps to minimize risks and losses on farms.

Some of the information provided in this resource come from the Animal Health Emergency Management and OSF partnerships and resource sharing with other Ontario Livestock Commodity Groups.

Things to consider when getting prepared.

There are several proactive measures that can be completed in advance to prepare producers for a wildfire emergency including the following:

  • Having contact information for prearranged off-farm evacuation sites (lairage points) handy
  • Reviewing wildfire history in area
  • Identifying and maintaining equipment that may help fight an approaching grassfire or wildfire (e.g., disk, harrow, tractor, water truck)
  • Reducing vegetation and wood debris within 10 to 30 meters of farm structures by thinning and pruning
  • Creating firebreaks by clearing vegetation and exposing bare soil to help curb the movement of wildfire.
  • Mapping the location of fire extinguishers, these should be in all barns, shops, and structures that have the potential to catch fire. Fire extinguishers should be easy to find within the structures, and all staff and family members should know where they are located and how to use them.
  • Predetermining the location evacuation sites and routes that may be used for animal movement and have a map of the identified areas readily available for all staff, family and first responders
  • Storing hay, straw, beddings/shaving outside the barn in a dry, covered area, if possible
  • Having water and feed readily available or at the pre-arranged lairage site(s) to ensure that all affected livestock have sufficient feed and water
  • Creating a detailed inventory of livestock and developing list of emergency contacts prior to any wildfire event
  • If in a wildfire susceptible area, procuring and installing some type of irrigation/ sprinkler system to help suppress fire
  • Preparing an evacuation kit that includes but is not limited to:
    - Supply of feed, supplements, and water for 7 to 10 days
    - Blankets, halters, leads, water buckets, feed buckets
    - Copies of vaccination records, medical records, and proof of ownership
    - Tools
    - Cash and credit card

Additional Resources.

Responding to Wildfire Crisis.

During a wildfire emergency, producers will often try to protect their farms and prevent losses. As you may be faces with the situation of responding to the threat of wildfire consider the following:

  • Evacuating employees/visitors to an agreed safe meeting place as required
  • Notifying the fire authority immediately
  • Assessing the fire and only attempting to contain or extinguish a small fire if it can be done safely.

Farm Animal Evacuation.

The Emergency Preparedness for Farm Animals provides a guide for how to know the risks and get prepared, what to do when planning to evacuate and leaving the farm. There are also tips on how to make an emergency plan/kit.

Are You Looking to Assist? Do you Need Assistance?  

If you are a producer living in a safe location not experiencing the direct impacts of wildfires and have room to “foster” sheep on your farm please call 519 836 0043 or email the OSF office at  admin@ontariosheep.org with your name, location/district, address, telephone number and quantity of livestock you could comfortably hold. You may also call OSF staff Erin Morgan 519 831 0850 or Tom Lewis 289 929 4881.

If you are a producer in crisis and looking for somewhere to transport your sheep due to wildfires, please call the OSF Office at 519 836 0043 or admin@ontariosheep.org. You may also call OSF staff Erin Morgan 519 831 0850 or Tom Lewis 289 929 4881.

Farmer Wellness and Mental Health/Personal Crisis Support

A healthy farmer is a safe farmer, and a safe farmer is a strong farmer. For mental health and personal crisis resources click here. Accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, in English and French, farmers needing immediate support can call 1-866-267-6255 to speak to a counsellor.