Even with preventive measures, some accidents will occur, so the need for response training remains.

After several livestock truck rollovers in recent years, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension, along with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and several local Farm Bureau chapters, last spring conducted a comprehensive two-day training on managing rollovers. Topics included organizing the accident scene and chain of command, extrication and rescue of trapped animals, responding to injured animals, and humane euthanasia.

Beth Ferry, Extension educator with MSU, said the training brought together producers, truck drivers, veterinarians, transportation companies and first responders, including firemen, EMTs and local, county and state law enforcement officers.

“When you get a diverse group like this together to talk about how to make things better, good things happen,” Ferry said. “Feedback shows that the message clearly hit home. They want to be proactive and take their emergency preparedness a step further by developing an instruction manual or by building their own response trailers.”

Emergency Response Trailers Provide Fast Help

The Minnesota Pork Board recently better-equipped emergency personnel in the southern part of the state. The board purchased and outfitted seven livestock emergency response trailers and placed them at strategic locations based on proximity to processing plants, major highways and livestock-dense production areas.

The trailers, funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, were developed in conjunction with Minnesota’s Region 5 Emergency Management and are intended to complement local fire departments’ existing resources. They include items such as chains, tarps, wire and fencing.

“The trailers are not for transporting animals, but they provide necessary equipment to assist in handling and containing animals after an accident,” said Jill Resler, chief operating officer for Minnesota Pork Board.

If a rollover or emergency situation occurs, responders can request a trailer via dispatch, and the trailer’s host department will transport the trailer and provide brief just-in-time training.

“We’ve been pleased with how well the trailers and the process have aided in emergency situations,” Resler said.

Producers should check with their transporters and local emergency personnel to see if rescue trailers exist in their area and if local emergency personnel are trained, she said.

“There are a lot of resources available to help,” Woods said. “Emergency situations are never easy, but if they are well-managed and there is a plan in place prior to them happening, losses can be minimized.”

Cooper Farms’ Roger Lennartz, who manages over 300 pieces of equipment, said that if you’re not confident in your emergency response plans or don’t have one at all, start small and keep tweaking.

“Something to build on is always better than nothing,” Lennartz said. “You don’t have to have everything figured out at once, but get started and keep evaluating, learning and asking questions,” he said.