The Agency of Agriculture has received inquiries from veterinarians and livestock owners regarding feeding livestock feed that has been contaminated by flood waters. Please see below the Agency of Agriculture's current recommendation regarding feeding livestock flooded feed or allowing them to graze on flooded pasture. Hopefully, this information will be helpful to you when communicating with your clients.
At this time, the Agency of Agriculture is recommending that people not feed livestock (horses included) feed stuffs that have been inundated by flood waters. Additionally, allowing livestock to graze on pastures that have been flooded is not recommended. The Agency of Agriculture has received inquiries from livestock owners who have historically allowed their animals to graze on pastures that flood seasonally. People should remember that this flooding is different than seasonal flooding that has happened in the past because Irene flood waters are potentially contaminated with pesticides, hydrocarbons, pathogens (E. Coli, salmonella, etc), heavy metals, etc due to the involvement of waste water treatment plants and other facilities that may contain these substances under normal circumstances. Certainly, consumption of these materials by horses does not represent a potential (although as of yet, poorly defined) human health concern the way that consumption by food producing livestock does, but it certainly represents a potential threat to the health of that individual animal. We have heard recommendations like letting the pastures sit through several rain events to help "wash off" contaminants and mowing pastures and removing the cut grass to help minimize contamination. Unfortunately, we know from experiences in midwestern states that even after allowing soybean crops to undergo several rain washings, the obvious and micro-contamination is not fully removed. So, based on all of this info, the Agency of Agriculture is advising against feeding any flood-affected forage and feedstuffs. The Agency of Agriculture has submitted to FDA a proposal for mitigation of contaminants in feedstuffs including mycotoxins (aflatoxin, vomitoxin,zearalonone, ochratoxin), heavy metals (cadmium, mercury, lead), pathogenic bacteria and associated toxins (Salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7, Clostridium perfringens, botulinum), pesticides (organophosphates, chlorinated hydrocarbons), and PCBs. Once we receive feedback from FDA, additional recommendations from the Agency of Agriculture pertaining to the management of feed materials such as haylage, corn silage and pasture will be forthcoming. Please contact the Agency animal health office at (802)828-2421 if you have any questions on this update.
Please see the following recommendations for livestock owners that have been generated by the Livestock Care Standards Advisory Council (veterinary members on that Council include Dr. Kent Henderson, Dr. Ruth Blauwiekel, and Dr. Haas). Please feel free to forward this information as you see fit.
* All farmers, regardless of size or classification, are advised to contact their Farm Service Agency county office ASAP in order to gain time sensitive information on financial loan and grant programs, as well as information on USDA’s Livestock Indemnity Program.
* All livestock owners should be reviewing their herd health and vaccination protocols in consultation with their herd health or large animal veterinarian as these recommendations may have changed in light of the significant flooding seen with Hurricane Irene.
*All livestock farmers should be reviewing their business plans and identifying potential risks. If feed shortage is identified as a risk, then consider culling marginally productive animals or other outliers while beef prices are strong.
*All livestock owners should assess feed inventory and plan now for alternative feed supplies for the upcoming fall and winter.
* All farmers should communicate with their feed representatives regarding proper harvest and storage protocols to minimize losses between harvest and storage and to maximize feed productivity.
* All farmers should communicate with their financial lenders in order to investigate potential financial opportunities that may exist.
* Please visit the Vermont Agency of Agriculture’s website at www.vermontagriculture.com