By JANET McCONNAUGHEY / Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A cattle roundup using boats and horses and a hay airlift were under way Friday for about 200 cattle stranded in Plaquemines Parish by Hurricane Isaac.
The animals were being herded to a highway and levee near a refinery along Louisiana Highway 23 near Belle Chasse where portable pens and a tractor-trailer load of feed were being brought, state Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain said.
He said the water the cattle had been drinking must be tested before fresh water can be brought in for them. Cows are sensitive to sudden drops in salinity, and Isaac's floodwaters were driven in from the Gulf of Mexico.
Horses are easier to move out of low-lying areas ahead of a storm, he said. "You can load a horse pretty quickly into a truck. They just love riding. You start moving cattle, you figure you can load 30 to 40 head of cattle in a semi. You have 4,000, 5,000 head of cattle -- you do the math."
Elsewhere, state teams went out by air and on the ground Friday to check livestock and assess storm damage to farm buildings and equipment.
"We have digital maps of where livestock are normally kept," Strain said. The aerial teams are made up of a pilot who flies a grid in those areas and an observer who logs exact GPS locations of livestock and generally also gets photographs, he said.
His department also was sending a truck to Plaquemines Parish pick up about 150 dogs and cats from the animal shelter. The refrigerated truck will have its temperature set at a comfortable level for the animals, to keep them from overheating.
Nearly 160 other pets belonging to people in state shelters were in the animal shelters at Alexandria and Haugton, he said. They included 92 dogs and two cats in Alexandria and 60 dogs, three cats and two birds in Haughton.
The Agriculture Department also was supplying fuel to hospitals, nursing homes and dairy farms. As of Friday morning, he said, it had delivered 161,514 gallons of diesel and 138,846 gallons of unleaded gasoline.
Dairy farmers whose power is out and who cannot buy fuel can get up to 50 gallons a day from the Department of Agriculture and Forestry office in Hammond, Strain said.
Milking machines run on electricity. "They have to milk those cows," Strain said.
It will take up to 10 days to assess crop damage, he said.
He reminded farmers to keep records of losses such as livestock deaths, lost feed and damaged supplies, supplementing paper records with photographs or video where possible.
Paper records can include the cost of moving livestock to safer grounds or new pastures and receipts for purchases to replace damaged feed or pastures.
"Do not destroy any damaged crops until it has been inspected by an insurance adjuster. If crops must be harvested, leave a 10-foot representative strip in each field to be inspected by an insurance adjuster," a news release said.
If trees must be cut down, their stumps should be left until someone from the Farm Service Agency measures their diameters, and fallen branches can be moved but should be kept until an FSA agent measures them, it said.