Dispose of dead livestock quickly
Even though South Dakota has borne the brunt of the blizzard’s impact and received most of the attention, both Dakotas, Wyoming and Nebraska have all seen massive and surprising losses. Dealing with so many carcasses demands special attention.
“Disposing of carcasses as soon as possible is imperative so the spread of disease and pollution does not occur,” says Mary Berg, an area Extension livestock environmental management specialist at North Dakota State University’s Carrington Research Extension Center.
Rendering, incineration, burial and composting are approved methods of carcass disposal in North Dakota.
Composting is a naturally occurring process that breaks the carcass into basic elements via microorganisms and heat generated during composting.
“It is a simple process that requires few materials and minimal maintenance,” says Emily Kline, another area Extension livestock environmental management specialist at the Carrington Research Extension Center.
Here are tips from Berg and Kline on how to build a mortality compost pile or windrow:
If composting one animal, build a pile.
If composting several ani mals, build a windrow.
You’ll need base material such as straw or old hay, bulking material such as manure or spoiled silage, and cover material such as straw, old hay or sawdust.
Use this process for composting:
Start with two feet of base material in a windrow or circle, depending on how many carcasses will be composted.
Lay the carcass on top of the base. Lance the rumen of mature cattle to ensure eruption does not occur. Have at least 1 foot of base material between the perimeter of the carcass and the edge of the base.
Cover the carcass with eight to 10 inches of bulking material.
Cover the entire pile or windrow with two feet of cover material. The cover material should be placed on the top and sides, with no part of the carcass showing. The pile needs a good cap to keep predators out and seal in heat.
To maintain the compost site:
Leave the pile or windrow undisturbed to keep heat sealed in during the very cold winter months.
Aerate the pile every two months using a loader from early spring until late fall.
Make sure sufficient cover material is always present. — WLJ