Healthy New Jersey

New Jersey Animal Emergency

Barn Fires and Wildfires

Livestock can be lost, injured, or killed during a barn fire or wildfire. Take the following actions to protect your livestock before a wildfire occurs and speed recovery after a barn fire or wildfire has passed.

What Do I Do Before a Disaster?

  • Maintain detailed livestock records.
    • Possible indemnity payments may be based on
      verifiable livestock records.
    • Records should be backed up in multiple locations, including digitally.
    • Records should be kept for multiple years of production.
    • Include the location of animals and fences on
      your property.
  • Use clearly distinguishable identification methods.
    • Make sure animals have some form of permanent identification (ear tags, tattoos, electronic microchips, brands, etc.).
    • Pictures of animals, especially high-value animals
      such as horses, should also be maintained.
  • Employ land use practices that discourage fire spread.
    • Limit weeds, debris, or highly flammable trees and bushes
      in fencerows.
    • Remove woody debris piles in a timely manner.
    • Remove non-native species that may not be suited for your environment.
    • During times of high fire danger or dormant vegetation, practice general fire prevention.

What Do I Do During a Disaster?

  • Above all, ensure the safety of your family and yourself in a wildfire situation.
  • If it can be done safely, allow for animal movement.
    • This could mean opening gates, cutting fences, or herding livestock into areas of lower fire risk (e.g. wheat pasture).
  • Proactively corral animals to prepare for off-farm movement.
    • During a Red Flag Warning, some animals, such as horses, could be corralled to allow for fast movement.
    • If you have a vehicle designated for moving livestock, consider having it hitched to a trailer in a position to quickly load and evacuate animals.
    • Only consider this option if you have ample time.
  • Once you leave your property, do not return until told to do so by first responders.
  • Communicate with neighbors and/or first responders.
    • If animals are left on your property after you evacuate, let neighbors and first responders know to be on the lookout for your animals.
  • Use emergency identification methods.
    • If animals are set loose, you can be creative with short-term identification methods.
    • Some producers have used spray paint to add personal identification marks on animals set loose during a wildfire situation.

What Do I Do After a Disaster?

  • Document livestock losses.
    • Take pictures of dead livestock where they lay.
    • Document the location of livestock where they are found.
    • Do not move livestock until approved by insurance or local, state, or federal authorities.
  • Practice safe and humane euthanasia methods.
    • Animals may be severely injured after a wildfire and need to be humanely euthanized.
    • Work with local officials to determine the safest and most humane means of euthanasia.
  • Dispose of carcasses.
    • After documentation has taken place, check with local or state authorities for proper disposal methods (e.g. burial, rendering, composting, etc.)
  • Accept emotional or mental health assistance.
    • Losing livestock can be a traumatic experience. Accept emotional or mental health resources that may be available after an incident.
    • Seek out help for dealing with long-term emotional stress.
    • Understand that grieving is a natural process after experiencing a major disaster.
  • Apply for federal assistance.
    • Federal assistance related to wildfire losses may be available depending on the scope of the incident.
    • This information will be available from your local extension agent or FSA office.
    • State FSA offices can be found at

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