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5 Easy Steps for Composting Dead Livestock


(AS1781 Dec. 2015)

Dead animals are an inevitable part of a livestock operation. Livestock owners can dispose of dead animals by composting. This guide offers step-by-step instructions for a livestock owner to follow.

Mary Berg, Area Livestock Environmental Management Specialist, Carrington Research Extension Center

Paige Brummund, Ward County Extension agent; Alicia E. Harstad, Stutsman County Extension agent; Penny L. Nester, Kidder County Extension agent

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Composting Material

  • Base material: straw, old hay, coarse crop residues (corn stalks)
  • Bulking material: manure or spoiled silage
  • Cover material: straw, old hay, sawdust

Step 1

Place 2 feet of base material in pile or long row, depending on number of carcasses to be composted.

Composting Material

Step 2

Lay carcass on top of base. Have at least 1 foot of base material between perimeter of carcass and edge of base.

Composting Material

Step 3

If composting cattle, puncture the rumen to prevent it from exploding.

composting cattle

Step 4

Cover carcass with 8 to 10 inches of bulking material.

cover material

Step 5

Cover the entire pile or long row with 2 feet of cover material.

cover material

Things To Remember

  • Make sure pile always has sufficient cover material.
  • Turn pile every six months from early spring to late fall.
  • To accelerate composting, turn pile every two months from early spring to late fall.
  • Do not disturb pile or long row during winter months.
  • Existing compost can be used to cover new piles or long row sections.

December 2015