Options for disposal of animal carcasses
March 20, 2019
Given the recent weather events livestock losses are an unfortunate reality for livestock operations. In disaster situations, the first step in the disposal process is to document the deaths (take pictures of the ear tags and animal). The state of Nebraska allows for disposal of dead animals via several methods including composting, burial, rendering, landfill and incineration. View information comparing the mortality management options here. Composting, burial or incineration must be performed on-site.
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) at 402-471-2186 and Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) 1-800-831-0550 can help answer specific regulatory questions
On-site Composting offers good biosecurity and disease control when done correctly. Appropriate mixtures of carbon and nitrogen sources, moisture, sufficient base material, and sufficient carbon material covering the pile are required to achieve temperatures capable of degrading the carcasses and destroying disease-causing organisms. Read more information on how to properly compost mortalities here.
On-site burial of carcasses does not require a permit, but recommendations and guidelines do exist. The disposal site should be selected to minimize ground and surface water contamination. Burying the animals on site within thirty-six hours after knowledge of death and at least four feet below the surface of the ground dramatically lowers the possibility of spreading a disease. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) guidance document for disposal of animal carcasses including specifications for burial site selection can be found here.