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How to Prepare for Wildfires and Livestock Evacuations

June 6, 2023

Information provided by the Animal Health Emergency Management

With wildfires present in Ontario, and their ability to  spread quickly across forests, grasslands and fields, livestock farmers near these natural spaces should be prepared for wildfires and know the steps to minimize risks and losses.


There are several proactive measures that can be completed in advance to prepare producers for a wildfire emergency including:

  • Having contact information for prearranged off-farm evacuation sites (lairage points) handy
  • Reviewing wildfire history in area
  • Identifying and maintaining equipment that may help fight an approaching grassfire or wildfire (e.g., disk, harrow, tractor, water truck)
  • Reducing vegetation and wood debris within 10 to 30 meters of farm structures by thinning and pruning
  • Creating firebreaks by clearing vegetation and exposing bare soil to help curb the movement of wildfire
  • Mapping the location of fire extinguishers, these should be in all barns, shops, and structures that have the potential to catch fire. Fire extinguishers should be easy to find within the structures, and all staff and family members should know where they are located and how to use them
  • Predetermining the location evacuation sites and routes that may be used for animal movement and have a map of the identified areas readily available for all staff, family and first responders
  • Storing hay, straw, beddings/shaving outside the barn in a dry, covered area, if possible
  • Having water and feed readily available or at the pre-arranged lairage site(s) to ensure that all affected livestock have sufficient feed and water
  • Creating a detailed inventory of livestock and developing list of emergency contacts prior to any wildfire event
  • If in a wildfire susceptible area, procuring and installing some type of irrigation/ sprinkler system to help suppress fire
  • Preparing an evacuation kit that includes but is not limited to:
    - Supply of feed, supplements, and water for 7 to 10 days
    - Blankets, halters, leads, water buckets, feed buckets
    - Copies of vaccination records, medical records, and proof of ownership
    - Tools
    - Cash and credit card


In the lead up to and during a wildfire emergency, producers will try to protect their farms and prevent losses. As you respond to the threat of wildfire consider the following:

  • Evacuating employees/visitors to an agreed safe meeting place as required
  • Notifying the fire authority immediately
  • Assessing the fire and only attempting to contain or extinguish a small fire if it can be done safely

Additional Resources

Government of Ontario: Forest Fires
Caring for Livestock During an Evacuation - Government of Manitoba
Farm Animals and Livestock Preparedness - Government of Alberta
Farmer Wellness Initiative

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