Like humans, livestock must be processed according to the law, when dealing with the carcasses of dead animals. This is not a pleasant thought, but anyone who owns livestock knows the occasional death, either expected or unexpected, is bound to happen. Some agencies, like the Oregon Public Health Division, provide some suggestions on how to dispose of dead animals. Some of the tips are meant for certain times, such as during flood recovery.
One of the reasons for proper disposal is related to issues of hygiene, which can affect other livestock, both large and small. These concerns are also important for slaughter houses. Proper means of disposing of dead animals in necessary, to prevent harmful diseases from spreading, possibly contaminating the soil, air, and ground. Even if the carcass doesn’t come from a diseased animal, it can produce plenty of harmful bacteria in the decomposition process.
Composting is a common way of handling a dead animal. This method has been around for centuries and is relatively simple. It is not recommended for animals other than livestock, however. Every community has laws and ordinances related to composting of animal carcasses.
Some communities may require permission for composting. It should be done properly, as some serious problems can occur if not done right. A mixture of manure, hay, and bedding with a fifty percent moisture content is recommended. A pit is dug to hold at least two feet of compost under the animal. A sufficient amount of compost is used to cover the animal as well.
For cattle, the stomach (rumen) may be a puncture, to prevent gas build up and possible explosion. If more than one animal is composted, they should be spaced at least four feet apart, so each carcass can heat up properly in the composting process. It will take about six months for a full grown carcass to compost.
Burial is only recommended for certain types of animals. They must be buried as soon as possible, after death. On farms or large properties, burial sites may be situated at least one hundred feet within the property line. The burial site shouldn’t be near any streams, wells, or other bodies of water. Burial sites should be in well-drained soil. Burial should be at least 6 feet deep, with nearly three feet of soil covering. Carcasses may also be dusted with lime, to decrease odor and help speed up decomposition.
In some areas, burning of a carcass may be allowed. But, this is not the most preferred method. In many regions, permission is needed from local government agencies. Burning is done by added plenty of fuel, to speed up the process. Burning should be done cautiously, to prevent the spread of fire and possible to prevent odors from bothering neighboring residents.
There is no single way to dispose of an animal carcass properly. It will often depend on local and state laws, as well as how the property is laid out and the condition of the ground or soil.