Prepare Your Pets and Livestock: El Nino and Bushfires

Animals Pet Care Hens Horses Wildlife Rescue Pets Posted Oct 24, 2023
What you need to know to prepare your animals for drier, hotter weather conditions.

With scorching summer temperatures forecast as El Nino sets in across Queensland, it is very important to ensure the health and wellbeing of your pets and livestock during bushfire season by following some simple steps.

Queensland’s local council websites include disaster dashboards providing important information to support local communities during and after disaster events. Find your local council disaster dashboard here.

Inspectorate and Rescue Support Team Leader Sommer Heath-Crilley said the hot, dry and windy weather is coming thick and fast.

"The change in weather can mean limited pasture, dams drying up and bushfires. We are already seeing the unfortunate effects with an influx of horses coming into RSPCA care in poor condition."

"The time to act is now with preparation key."

How to prepare animals for dry conditions
  • Ensure you have enough feed in storage for your livestock
  • Check your water tanks and fill them up
  • Keep water sources fresh for animals and away from direct sunlight if you can
  • Put in fire breaks at your property
  • Consider reducing your herd

"Most importantly, don't wait until animals are compromised, reach out early. There is no shame in reaching out for help. We may be able to resolve the issue, but we will do our best to support you in any way that we can."

Its not just pets and livestock that can be impacted by dry, hot conditions. This is how drought can impact our wildlife - animal rescues in recent years. You can do your bit by leaving out containers of water for wildlife. Just make sure to frequently change the water, leave containers out of direct sun, and put rocks/sticks that can be used as perches for wildlife to get back out of water sources.

How should I prepare my animals for emergency situations?

With the increased bushfire risk, here are some tips to keep your pets and livestock safe.

First, you should also look at having an emergency plan that includes your animals. This plan should cover all types of disasters but if you live in a bushfire prone area, it is advisable that you focus on your bushfire risks.

Get Ready Queensland have some great tips on understanding your risks and putting a plan together:

How do I find emergency warnings?

It is vital to stay informed and know when to act in an emergency.

QFES have the most update information about current bushfire warnings with advice on when to act.

Queensland's local council websites include disaster dashboards which provide important information to support local communities during and after disaster events. Find your local council.

Australia has a national warning system to advise the public about all types of disasters. Learn more about the Australian warning system.

Emergency SMS Alerts: during a disaster you may receive a warning to your mobile phone. For more information about this service, visit Emergency Alert.

I have livestock, when should I act?

Keep an eye on your local government websites and weather warnings.

Act early and move your livestock (Horses, Sheep, Goats, Cattle) into a paddock that is as cleared as possible. If you don't have the time to relocate all your stock, make sure to open any internal gates to allow them to find safety.

This link offers some good tips if you have horses: Horses in Bushfires.

I've found sick or injured wildlife, how can I help?
  1. If you've found an injured, orphaned, or sick wildlife, contact the RSPCA 1300 ANIMAL Hotline (1300 264 625). We have a 24/7 service, and our team can offer advice over the phone or contact your nearest wildlife rescuer.
  2. Animals will likely be in shock and distress following severe weather events, don't put yourself in harm's way to rescue them if it is not safe to do so.
  3. If you can easily contain smaller injured animals, keep them secure until help arrives, or take them to your local vet.
  4. Watch the roads! After natural disasters displaced animals may turn up in odd places seeking refuge. Here are more tips for driving safely with wildlife around.
  5. Keep your pets inside or secure at dawn and dusk when a lot of native animals are out and about.

Learn about pouch checking deceased wildlife here.

Who do I contact when I lose or find a pet, or need assistance with livestock?

During a disaster, animals may become displaced or lost when homes, sheds and fences are damaged or destroyed. Lost animals should be returned to their home property or correct ownership as soon as possible and appropriate care and treatment for any disease or injury provided.

  • SES can assist pets and their owners that need rescuing on 132 500.
  • For sick or injured pets contact your local veterinarian.
  • For lost and found companion animals, contact our RSPCA Qld Lost & Found team on 1300 363 736 and contact your local Council.
  • If you notice displaced livestock, contact your local council.
  • For all other matters, contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Jacobbe McBride
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