Bringing animals home after a natural disaster

Livestock and pet owners should bring their animals home only when it is safe to do so. Consider the following issues before bringing animals home.


Thoroughly search the property to find out the extent and nature of the debris. Large amounts of household goods and waste may have been deposited during the disaster.

Before releasing any animals into an area, remove any potentially dangerous debris from the property that could injure your animals.

Accommodation and security

Make sure all accommodation is clean, dry and undamaged so you can house your animals safely. You will need to disinfect hard surfaces, such as concrete pads, walls and other surfaces, if they have come into contact with any floodwater.

Learn more about disinfecting animal living areas after a flood.

All areas designed to contain animals (e.g. fences and compounds) should be checked and repaired if damaged.

Noise and activity

Animals that have been affected by natural disasters may be traumatised and easily frightened. Where possible, return animals only after you have completed major cleaning and rubbish removal activities.

To settle animals back into their environment quickly, try to avoid the high activity and noise levels caused by generators, bulldozers and power washers. Also avoid having large numbers of unfamiliar people around the animals.

Food and water

Ensure that animals have access to suitable quality water. Keep animals away from any floodwater on the property. Additionally, do not allow animals to drink water that is stagnant and/or flood affected (including storage water that has been flood affected) as it could contain high levels of bacteria and other dangerous contaminants.

Animals must not have access to debris, as it could contain spoilt food or dead carcasses, which could be harmful if eaten.

Give the animals good-quality food or suitable pasture. You can use hydrated lime to disinfect grassed areas that have been inundated with contaminated water. Sprinkle the lime over the area, water in well and keep animals off the area for at least 7 days.


Many structures may have been damaged or destroyed during the floods. Animals returning to properties must have adequate shade to shelter from the weather.

Check the existing structures to ensure they are safe and secure. Also ensure that there is adequate shelter to accommodate the animals.

Pastures should have safe and secure sheltered areas provided by either constructed materials or trees sufficient to provide shelter for all the animals in the paddock.


Once you return your animals home, check them regularly to ensure they are settling in well. Initially, monitor them at least daily to ensure they are eating properly, have not sustained injuries from unobserved debris and are settling in.

Make sure you can adequately access the areas where animals have been released so you can monitor them regularly and easily feed them if required.

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