The word fire can strike fear for farmers and ranchers. Whether it’s a large outbreaks of wildfires, in a barn, or just a brush pile—fire precaution can’t be stressed on the farm enough.
This past week, the driver of a tractor-trailer hauling straw bales pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot in Mexico, Mo., after hearing a “pop” from his vehicle. Upon inspecting his truck, he saw a fire near the driver’s side rear wheels of the tractor unit. The fire quickly spread to the load of straw he’d been hauling out of state, and igniting the fuel tank. Local crews responded to the scene, removing the straw from the load and extinguishing the fire. No injuries were reported.
The driver of semi load of straw heard a "pop" and pulled over to investigate on Thursday. The fire reached the gas tank and straw. @CityofMexicoMO fire crews are cleaning up the damage. More coverage on @DroversCTN : https://t.co/SLjyOuuosE pic.twitter.com/7KTWLLJ9ea— Sara Brown (@LvstkWriter) July 22, 2019
The scene, however, is heartbreaking for farmers to watch. After several years of drought, and then wet, cool spring growing conditions this year, every load of hay and straw is critically important to livestock farmers.
In the quick race to put up forage this year, don’t forget to follow safety procedures to prevent a fire from destroying your forage resources. Here’s quick review of our latest coverage on hay production this year:
With the wet spring and delayed forage harvest, many farmers are being forced to put up hay that is less than ideal. This more fibrous forage can result in lower dry matter intake, lower digestibility, more chewing time and lower production. MORE
Oregon farmers will not be held liable for using tractors and plows to cut firebreaks around homes and communities during while fighting wildfires in the state, thanks to a new law passed by the Oregon Legislature. The bill encourages bystanders to assist people in emergencies without worry about being sued if something goes wrong. The law was inspired by last year’s Substation fire that destroyed 78,425 acres of dry wheat fields and grasslands. MORE
If you are not already a hay-making pro, watch these two “Beef Tips” videos from Purdue Extension to help increase the quality and quantity of their forage crops.
Instead of spending spring break catching up on sleep or spending time with friends, 17-year-old Kylie Bos is spending it with her father, Jamie Bos, hauling haul hay to various parts of flood-devastated areas of Nebraska. MORE
Frequent spring rains caught several cuttings before they were able to be baled this spring. Extra moisture means extra heat inside the bale or hay stack. Monitor bale temperatures to prevent combustion and fire. Take special note of the chart listing the risks different bale temperatures present. MORE
Even if damp bales don't go up in flames, the nutrient quality can be cooked out of hay. Heat destroys carbohydrates and makes proteins indigestible to livestock. MORE
With delays in planting this year, livestock producers and dairymen are concerned there isn’t enough corn planted or alfalfa hay cut for feed and bedding come fall. MORE
It seems there have been more livestock barn fires in 2018 than years prior, according to coverage on Agweb.com and sister publications Farm Journal’s PORK, Drovers and Dairy Herd Management. While wildfires are nearly impossible to prepare for, stationary livestock barns can be modified to lower the risk of fire. Here's how.
When a Fire Occurs
In the event of a fire, or even when hay is smoldering, contact the fire department immediately. Your next action step and main priority should be to protect human life.
Before taking any action to fight a fire, consider other valuable actions you can take to address the situation prior to the arrival of fire fighters, including the following:
- Account for all personnel on your farm or ranch operation.
- Check the area for flammable products. If any are present, leave the area and tell firefighters upon their arrival.
- Determine whether electricity needs to be turned off in buildings.
- If there are livestock inside a building that has a fire, consider personal safety before relocating livestock.
- Remove any extra vehicles or machinery from the area to clear space for firefighters.
- Stage bale-moving machinery out of the immediate fire area, but have it available to help move bales, as directed by fire fighters.
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