About horses and farm animals

There's more detailed information for horse owners at the website of our equine vet special interest group, Equine Veterinarians Australia.

If the information you're looking for isn't here, your local veterinarian will be able to help. Visit Find-a-vet to find one near you who's an AVA member.

What can I do to help protect my horses and livestock during a natural disaster?

It's important to be prepared for all types of natural disasters to ensure that our horses, livestock and we remain safe.

Make sure your emergency kit is prepared at the start of the fire, cyclone and flood season (further information is available from your local veterinarian).

Decide on a safe place to keep your horse and livestock prior to an emergency. In making this decision, the vital points to consider are whether the place is prone to flooding, close to cyclonic winds, is at risk of flying debris, and whether it can be accessed after an extreme event.

If it's likely that you will need to evacuate your horse or livestock, you should determine when it will be the most appropriate and safest time to do so. 

Practice your disaster plan at least once before each disaster season.

Implement your disaster plan

If evacuation is impossible, move your horses and livestock to the safest place possible on the premises. 

Whether you leave horse in the paddock or in their stables should depend on the type of emergency and the risk of injury from material or trees in the paddocks, the likelihood of flooding and the stability of their stables.

Whether you leave livestock in yards or in the paddock should depend on the type of emergency and the risk of injury from material or trees in the paddocks, the likelihood of flooding and the stability of their yards.

If time permits, secure or remove all loose objects.

Make sure the horses and livestock have access to a safe food and water source. Do not rely on automatic water systems as power may be lost.

After the emergency

Survey the area for hazards such as sharp objects, dangerous materials, live wires and contaminated water.

Check your horses and livestock for any injuries and release them into safe and enclosed areas, only during daylight. Watch them closely for the next few hours. Often familiar areas and scents have changed which can confuse your horses and livestock and alter their behaviour.

If your horses and livestock have been without food for a long period, reintroduce food slowly and in small portions. Allow free access to clean water. Do not give cold water.

Allow uninterrupted rest to recover from trauma and stress.

For horses

Clearly identify your horse before a potential disaster hits.

Often brands will not be the easiest way to link the horse back to you.

It's important to use other identification:

  • Neck band with name and phone number
  • Microchip
  • Halter tag
  • Luggage tag braided into the mane or tail
  • Clipper-shaved information in the animal’s hair
  • Livestock marker or spray paint
  • Permanent marker on hoof wall.

For livestock

Ensure that your animals have adequate identification to link them back to you. This may include:

  • Ear tags, tail tags or leg bands
  • Neck chains with ID
  • Ear notches
  • Microchips
  • Brands
  • Livestock marker or spray paint.

Some areas in Australia are prone to being cut off by water for long periods of time, resulting in lack of feed access for stock. Other situations may occur when all feed is destroyed by water or fire damage.

It's important to make sure you have alternative sources of feed in case of a disaster. This may mean having a storage shed on or off-site specifically for storing feed, or a pre-arrangement with a stock feed supplier for these situations

Make sure you have a designated disposal area for potential stock losses. Dead livestock can rapidly decompose and contaminate water supplies within days. One dead cow can produce 170L of leachate within two months.

Downloadable pdfs are available here on dealing with horses and livestock during natural disasters.

I live in an urban area and I want to keep my horse there too, is that possible?

People living in peri-urban areas (areas that are on the perimeters of city areas) with enough space are able to keep a horse on their property.

Before doing this there are a few things you should first consider, such as space, the minimum paddock size if the horse is not exercised daily should be 0.4 hectares. The site must be fenced off with a safe structure where the horse is protected from attack by other animals or humans and feeding areas and stables should be placed well away from trees in which bats are known to roost.

You should also ensure that your neighbours are not going to be affected by a lot of noise or damage where fences are shared.

I live on the outskirts of a city and have a bit of space. What kinds of animals could I keep there?

There are quite a few possibilities for people living in these kinds of areas.  You'll need enough space for the animals you'll own, as well as making sure the safety of both animals and humans are taken care of. If you're able to look after the animals properly, you could keep horses, cattle, sheep, goats, alpacas, pigs or poultry, including chickens, ducks, geese, turkey and quail.

As with taking on the responsibility of any new animal, you need to be sure that you will have enough time to care for it and that it will fit into your lifestyle.

A veterinarian will be able to give you all the details you need.

I want to sell my pigs commercially, are there regulations I need to follow?

Pig owners wishing to sell their pigs commercially need to be registered on the PigPass database at www.pigpass.com.au and have a quality assurance program that meets the requirements of the relevant Food Authority or the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service.

More information about this can be found on your state department of primary industries website or the Australian Pork Limited website at www.apl.au.com.

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