Specific disposal techniques are recommended of the safety of the environment, humans and other animals

While unpleasant, livestock producers must sometimes deal with the loss of an animal due to injury or illness, and processing a sick or injured animal into meat is not an option in many cases. So what should producers do with the remains of that animal?

A common practice to dispose of animal carcasses has been to simply dispose it in a remote area of the farm to allow nature to take its course. While “out of sight, out of mind” may be a common practice, it’s not the most sanitary, nor is it allowed under Missouri law. The Missouri Department of Agriculture also told Ozarks Farm & Neighbor that the leaving carcasses to decay in the open can contribute to the spread of disease.

State statutes dictate that producers must remove the deceased animal within 24 hours of discovering or knowing it is dead. They then have the option of incinerating, burying, composting or rendering animal carcasses. In the Ozarks, unfortunately, there are no longer any rendering companies to remove deceased livestock, leaving the task of removal to the producer utilizing the other three options. For those producers who have smaller animals, disposal via composting or incinerating are viable options, but larger animals, including cattle and horses, there may be far few choices.

Burying

The most common method, as well as the least desirable due to the potential for ground and surface water contamination, of disposing of animal carcasses is to bury them.

According to the University of Missouri Extension and the MDA, the maximum amount of land that is used for the on-site burial of animals on any person’s property during a given year is limited to 10 percent of the total land owned by that person or 1 acre, whichever is greater.

The maximum load for burials in areas with the potential for groundwater contamination is limited to one bovine, six swine, seven sheep, 300 poultry carcasses or 70 turkey carcasses on any given acre per year. Maximum load for burials in areas without the potential for groundwater contamination is limited to seven cattle, 44 swine, 47 sheep, 400 turkey carcasses and 2,000 poultry carcasses

Burial sites shouldn’t be in low-lying areas subject to flooding, must be covered by 30 inches of soil, not be placed in a ditch, the base of a hill or in a cavern and then covered with soil. In addition, the place of burial must be at least 300 feet from any wells, surface water intake structures, springs, public drinking water supply lakes, or sinkholes; at least 50 feet from property lines; at least 300 feet from any existing neighboring residence; and more than 100 feet from any surface water like a stream, lake or pond.

Incineration

The University of Missouri Extension states the incineration of animal carcasses “is feasible, but it may not be economical.” It is energy intensive and has the potential for polluting the environment if the incinerator is not operated and maintained properly. Open burning of dead animals or burning in a trash barrel or similar type of container is not allowed.

The MDA told OFN that simply attempting burning livestock carcasses is not a viable option as pathogens may be spread through the air.

Composting

Composting allows a producer to “recycle” the animal into fertilizer for fields and pastures. The MU Extension has stated that it has proven to be a very effective means of carcass management in the poultry and swine industries. Composting is a naturally occurring process in which the dead animal is broken down into basic elements (organic matter) by microorganisms, bacteria and fungi. Composting has advantages over other methods of carcass disposal, including lower costs, easy-to-prepare piles and windrows created with available on-farm machinery, and lower risk of air and water pollution when done properly. Proper composting techniques will destroy most disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Composting, the MDA told OFN, has proven to be an effective means of carcass disposal. The main benefit of composting is that pathogens are destroyed during composting and any leach from decaying carcasses is contained and absorbed by the carbon material.

Sanitary landfills

Sanitary landfills are permitted to accept dead animals under Chapter 260 of the Revised Missouri Statutes. While all sanitary landfills are allowed to accept dead animals, it may not be the policy of the operator.

In Missouri Ozarks, the Springfield Sanitary Landfill in Willard, Mo., will accept up to five animals per day, first-come-first-serve in the morning hours, and the Prairie View Regional Waste Facility in Lamar, Mo., also accepts deceased animals. Fees do apply.

Julie Turner-CrawfordFarm Helpcarcass removal,dead animal,disposalSpecific disposal techniques are recommended of the safety of the environment, humans and other animals While unpleasant, livestock producers must sometimes deal with the loss of an animal due to injury or illness, and processing a sick or injured animal into meat is not an option in many cases. So...The Ozarks' most read farm newspaper, reaching more than 58,000 readers in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma