Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 9/14/16

Recent floods and excess water could mean changes to livestock and crops management this harvest season. Many of the effects are yet to be determined as the standing crop still grows and each field and/or farm is affected differently. It is recommended to properly assess your situation and review these guidelines in preparation for harvest and feeding of livestock.

It is recommended to clean up as much debris as possible in flooded pastures to avoid harm to grazing livestock.  Repair of contaminated pastures includes clipping the pasture and waiting until next spring to graze or minimize grazing on regrowth this fall, depending on the silt load.  Flooded pastures can expose animals to pathogens that may cause disease, abortion, or even death. Watch livestock closely and call your veterinarian if animals appear sick.
Flooded Hay
Hay stacked in flooded areas should be inspected closely as soon as possible. Dry bales of hay should be removed and restacked in a dry location since capillary action will draw water up into the stack. Discard bales that are visibly contaminated with silt or mold. It is probably unsafe for animals and not worth the time and expense of drying.

Flooded wrapped bales are apt to spoil; even if your bales look fine right after the flood, check a few in about a month to look for changes. Check hay storage often for pungent odors, hot damp areas on the stack, emission of water vapors and other signs of heating. Hay bales that are at 30 to 40 percent moisture content pose the greatest risk of fire.

To check a stack's temperature for fire risk, drive a sharp pointed pipe into the hay, lower a thermometer inside the pipe and leave it there for about 20 minutes. At 150 degrees F, the hay is approaching the danger zone. At 170 degrees F, hot spots or fire pockets are possible and a local fire department should be notified.
Checking Grain Bins
If part of a grain bin has been flooded, remove the dry grain. Unloading from the center sump may not be possible because wet grain likely will not flow. One option is unloading the grain from the top using a pneumatic conveyor or any other means. Get the wet grain to a dryer quickly, if possible. This is the surest way to save wet grain.

If the grain depth is less than six feet, use a natural-air bin drying system with a perforated floor and a high-capacity drying fan. Verify that the air is coming through the grain. Supplemental heat can be used to speed drying, but do not raise the air temperature more than 10 or 15 degrees F. If a dryer is not available, spread the grain in as dry a place as possible. Don't pile it any higher than six inches. Stir it daily to prevent overheating and to speed drying. Watch for and remove molded grains.

Wet or damp grain can be fed to livestock but needs to be fed soon or it will deteriorate quickly. Grain that has been submerged in flood waters is often considered adulterated and is not to be fed or sold.

Loss of livestock
The Livestock Indemnity Program provides benefits to livestock producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather. These payments are equal to 75% of the average fair market value of the livestock. Losses should be reported to your insurance agent as quickly as possible after they are found.

For more information on flood recovery for farms and homes, contact your county ISU Extension office or visit