Dead Animal Disposal

With the December 2008 closing of the Halfway Packing Company, in Halfway, Mo., many livestock producers were left with the realization, there's no 'dead wagon' to come by anymore. This was reiterated in a recent Springfield News-Leader front page article, complete with glamorous dead cow photo. It is important for livestock producers to understand their new responsibility in keeping with regulations on dead animal disposal, especially with the public eye turned in the producer's direction. With the December 2008 closing of the Halfway Packing Company, in Halfway, Mo., many livestock producers were left with the realization, there's no 'dead wagon' to come by anymore. This was reiterated in a recent Springfield News-Leader front page article, complete with glamorous dead cow photo. It is important for livestock producers to understand their new responsibility in keeping with regulations on dead animal disposal, especially with the public eye turned in the producer's direction.
Mark Rader, Section Chief over DNR's water, air and land section, in Springfield, Mo., explained that the regulations regarding the disposal of dead animals is a two-part explanation. "It’s a shared rule," he noted.
"The dead animal disposal law is under the jurisdiction of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. We at the Department of Natural Resources, however, also have some authority. Our staff will help locate the most suitable location on the property to bury. An example would be, periodically a producer may lose a roof on a poultry barn or house in a tornado or storm. We would work in conjunction with the Department of Ag on proper disposal. We would verify the amount of material, (the amount of birds to be buried) and the best location on the property. This is a joint responsibility."
Rader did add, however, that in general, Missouri DNR does not respond to small volume dead animal incidents, "unless the allegation is improper disposal into waters of the state, or, disposal where such impact might reasonably occur."
 
"Disposal of Dead Animals"
Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 269, "Disposal of Dead Animals," Section 269.020 (August 28, 2008) lists the specifications for disposing of dead animals. To begin, owners have 24 hours to dispose of the animal:  [Statute in italics.]
1. Every person owning or caring for any animal that has died from any cause shall dispose of the animal carcass within 24 hours after knowledge of such death, either by arranging for a person permitted under this chapter to dispose of or transport it, or by the owner or person entitled to such body causing the same to be deposited in a permitted sanitary landfill notwithstanding any other provision of the law or rule to the contrary, allowing it to be buried in a sanitary landfill or buried, incinerated, composted, or disposed of in a manner approved by the state veterinarian within the 24-hour period upon his own or any other available premises, provided that such disposition is in accordance with the provisions of subsection 2 of this section.

Burial
2. On-site burial of dead animals shall be in accordance with the following loading limitations, geographic restrictions and other conditions as specified:
(1) For areas defined by the department of natural resources, division of geology and land survey, as having major groundwater contamination potential, [See figure at left, areas specified by colored portion.] the maximum loading rate shall be limited to: (a) One bovine, six swine, seven sheep, and beginning July 1, 1995, 70 turkey carcasses or 300 poultry carcasses on any given acre per year; or (b) All other species and immature cattle, swine and sheep, and beginning July 1, 1995, turkeys or poultry shall be limited to 1,000 pounds of animals on any given acre per year;
(2) A maximum loading for areas excluded from subdivision (1) of this subsection shall be limited to: (a) Seven cattle, 44 swine, 47 sheep, and beginning July 1, 1995, 400 turkey carcasses, or 2,000 poultry carcasses on any given acre per year; or (b) All other species and immature cattle, swine, sheep, and beginning July 1, 1995, turkeys or poultry shall be limited to 7,000 pounds of animals on any given acre per year;
(3) The maximum amount of land that shall be used for on-site burial of animals on any person's property during a given year shall be limited to 10 percent of the total land owned by that person or one acre, whichever is greater; and
(4) Burial sites shall not be located in low-lying areas subject to flooding; and
(5) The lowest elevation of the burial pits shall be six feet or less below the surface of the ground; and
(6) The dead animals shall be immediately covered with a minimum of six inches of soil and a final cover of a minimum of 30 inches of soil; and
(7) Carcasses shall not be placed on the ground, in a ditch, at the base of a hill, or in a cavern and covered with soil; and
(8) The abdominal cavity of carcasses over 150 pounds shall be punctured to allow escape of putrefactive gasses; and
(9) The location of dead animal burial sites must be in accordance with the following separation distances: (a) At least 300 feet from any wells, surface water intake structures, public water supply lakes, springs or sinkholes; and (b) At least 50 feet from adjacent property line; and (c) At least 300 feet from any existing neighboring residence; and (d) More than 100 feet from any body of surface water such as a stream, lake, pond or intermittent stream.

Burning and Rendering
The MU Extension guidesheet WQ216, "Dead Animal Disposal Laws in Missouri," states that 'Dead animal carcasses should not be buried, burned, cooked or otherwise disposed, except as provided for in the dead animal regulations. The statute states:
3. Any person so owning or controlling any dead animal, that has not died of a contagious disease, shall have the right to remove the hide or skin thereof, at the site of the animal's death, before disposing of such body as prescribed in this chapter, but such skinning must be done and the disposition of such hide, or skin and body must be made in a manner that will avoid the creation of any nuisance.
4. No body of any animal shall be buried, burned, cooked or otherwise disposed of, except as provided for in this section.
5. Composting of dead animals shall be done in a dead animal composter designed and constructed in an efficient design as recommended by the University of Missouri extension service.
6. Noncommercial incineration of dead animals shall be done in an incinerator designed, constructed and operated in an efficient manner as recommended by the University of Missouri extension service.
7. Commercial incineration of dead animals shall be done in an incinerator designed, constructed and operated in accordance with the provisions of chapter 643, RSMo, and any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder.

Landfills
8. Disposal of dead animals is allowable in a sanitary landfill that has a current permit under the provisions of chapter 260, RSMo, and any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder.
The DNR guidelines offer this information on landfill disposal. Call the landfill first to determine whether it accepts large quantities of dead animals.  For a complete listing of landfills, visit www.dnr.mo.gov/env/swmp/facilities/sanlist.htm.
According to MU Extension guidesheet WQ216 "Landfills are permitted to accept dead animals under Chapter 260, RSMo. Modern sanitary landfills are designed and operated to prevent leaching into groundwater or surface waters. The drawback of landfills is that they are only for disposing, not for recycling and landfill space is becoming scarce. Even though a landfill is permitted to accept dead animals, it may not be the policy of the landfill operator."
Springfield Landfill in Greene County said it usually accepts maybe two or three large animals from a person, and a $20 minimum covers the first 1,300 lbs. After that it's prorated by $28.65/ton. Animals have to be brought in before 1 p.m. Monday through Friday and by noon on Saturday.
At the Blackoak Landfill in Wright County they are not allowed to take any large animals at all. They will take some small animals, possibly a sheep or a goat.
Each landfill is different, so call ahead to be sure they will accept your load. This can be a viable option in small instances of death loss.

Emergency Disposal
9. In emergency situations involving a risk to the health and welfare of any species of animal or man caused by the death of an animal, the state veterinarian may enter any premises, take possession of any dead animal, and dispose of such animal by any method authorized by this chapter, but only if the person who owned, cared for, or most recently possessed the animal is unable or unwilling to properly dispose of the animal. The owner, custodian, or person who most recently possessed the animal shall reimburse the state veterinarian for the reasonable expense of disposing of the animal pursuant to this section.
10. If an animal's death causes a nuisance, the state veterinarian may enter any premises, take possession of any dead animal and dispose of such animal by any method authorized by this chapter but only if the person who owned, cared for, or who most recently possessed the animal has not been located within 24 hours after a reasonable effort, the person is absent from the state and refuses to cooperate or the person is unable to properly dispose of the animal due to that person's physical or mental condition. The owner, custodian or person who most recently possessed the animal shall reimburse the state veterinarian for the reasonable expense of disposing of the animal pursuant to this section.
11. In emergency situations involving a risk to the health and welfare of any species of animal or man, or where the death of an animal has caused a nuisance, the state veterinarian may apply, in the county where the dead animal was found, for a court order requiring the person who owned, cared for, or most recently possessed the dead animal, to dispose of it.

Ask Extension Guidance
12. The department of agriculture and the department of natural resources shall not have veto power on the decisions of the University of Missouri extension services or any decisions made under this section.

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