Safe to run beef cattle on river-bottom pasture after flood?

Asked October 17, 2013, 2:35 PM EDT

We are located in Colorado along the Platte River. It is October, with some nighttime freezing and warm days. We have just gone through a major flood, with water about 12 feet deep over river-bottom pasture used to winter beef cattle. The cattle usually come off summer pasture in November and are wintered in the river bottom, which has hay meadows with native grass and some planted brome grass. They graze the meadows and are supplemented with hay. This floodwater came from massive rains and moved about 150 miles through mountains, towns, and rural areas. We need to know if it is safe to pasture cattle on the land that was flooded. Under what conditions would it not be safe? Thank you for your help with this.

Weld County Colorado

1 Response

The biggest issue for beef producers is the debris that is left in pastures after a flood. Hardware and hardware disease can be devastating to the beef producer. Be sure to scout the fields to find and remove hardware that might injure cattle. Also, watch for signs of hardware disease in the livestock for several weeks, even months, after the flooded pasture is used.

If there are chemical plants, oil refineries, or other facilities that produce or use large amounts of toxic materials immediately upstream from the pasture, you might want to test for the families of chemicals associated with those facilities.

Here are other resources that you may find helpful: