Surface runoff transport of Escherichia coli after poultry litter application on pastureland

Escherichia coli transported in surface runoff from dissolution of applied poultry litter is a major variable in assessing fecal contamination of streams. However, the relative magnitude of the E. coli concentration from a specific poultry litter application and relative to the time lag between litter application and rainfall are not completely understood. This research investigated E. coli transport in runoff on fourteen 2 m × 2 m pastureland plots. Poultry litter was manually applied (4,942 kg ha‐1) in twelve plots followed by artificial rainfall with intensities equivalent to 2‐year and 5‐year storm events. Rainfall was applied in duplicate plots immediately after poultry litter application and 24 and 120 h after litter application. Experiments were also conducted on two control plots without poultry litter application. Surface runoff was collected using a flume installed in a trench. E. coli was quantified from sampled runoff and used as an indicator of fecal contamination by the most probable number (MPN) technique. Significant differences in the average event mean concentrations (EMCs) for the various treatments were determined using ANOVA. No significant differences were observed in average EMCs relative to storm intensity. Statistically significant differences were observed in average EMCs relative to time lag between litter application and rainfall (P < 0.05). A nonlinear relationship was observed between average E. coli EMC and time lag, with the EMC decreasing between 0 h (1.6 × 105 MPN/100 mL) and 24 h (1.3 × 104 MPN/100 mL) and then increasing at 120 h (4.3 × 104 MPN/100 mL). E. coli were always detected in the control plots (average EMC of 6.8 × 103 MPN/100 mL), indicating the presence and transport of fecal bacteria from sources independent of the immediate poultry litter application. Even though poultry litter application may increase E. coli concentrations in runoff, other sources of fecal contamination serve as a significant component of the total E. coli EMC, especially as the time lag between litter application and rainfall events increases.

Purpose          

Poultry litter is recognized as an excellent source of the plant nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. In addition, litter returns organic matter and other nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and sulphur to the soil, building soil fertility and quality.

Questions exist concerning E. coli contamination of waterways following manure land application events. Oklahoma State University researchers conducted a field study evaluating surface runoff transport of E. coli following poultry litter application to pastureland.

Figure 1. Illustration of the down slope outflow flume.What did we do?

Pasture plots, which consisted of ryegrass, fescue grass, bermudagrass and some Johnsongrass, were established at the Eastern Oklahoma Research Station located in Haskell, OK. Cattle had not been allowed access to the pasture for over one year and poultry litter had previously been applied one year prior to the study. Broiler litter was applied to 14 plots at a rate of 2.2 tons/acre. Two control plots received no litter application.

An artificial rainfall simulator was used to produce 2 yr and 5 yr storm events. Rainfall was applied at 0 h, 24 h and 120 h after litter application. Surface runoff was collected using a flume installed in a trench (Figures 1 and 2). Water samples were tested for E. coli populations.

Figure 2. Rainfall simulator.

What have we learned?

Results of this study showed that E. coli event mean concentrations (EMC) in sampled runoff decreased at 24 h and 120 h when compared to 0 h after litter application (Table 1). However, a slight increase in populations was observed at 120 h as compared to 24 h. This slight growth may have been due to litter in contact with the soil surface and protected from ultraviolet light and moisture loss by vegetative cover.

In control plots, E. coli was always detected, indicating other sources of E.coli aside from poultry litter. Other sources may include rodents, birds, and other small mammals.

Table 1. E. coli event mean concentration (EMC, MPN/100 ml)

In conclusion, poultry litter applications may contribute to runoff of E. coli when rainfall events occur shortly after litter application. However, other sources of fecal contamination may serve as a significant component of the total E. coli EMC, especially as the time lag between litter application and rainfall event increases. The implications of this study may affect poultry litter application timing decisions based on predicted rainfall events.

Future Plans  

Future studies using more advanced biological analysis techniques (i.e., DNA profiling) should be conducted to identify sources of background E. coli concentrations.

Authors      

Josh Payne, Area Animal Waste Managment Specialist, Oklahoma State University joshua.payne@okstate.edu

Jorge Guzman, Senior Engineer, Waterborne Environmental; Garey Fox, Professor, Oklahoma State University

Additional information              

Guzman, J. A., G. A. Fox and J. B. Payne, 2010. Surface runoff transport of Escherichia coli after poultry litter application on pastureland. Trans. ASABE. 53(3):779-886.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2015. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Seattle, WA. March 31-April 3, 2015. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Managing Animal Mortalities Curriculum Materials

Managing animal mortalities is an unpleasant but necessary part of raising livestock or poultry. Improper carcass disposal can negatively impact the environment and be a source of disease or pathogens. This material was developed for use in beginning farmer and extension programs, high school classrooms, and for self-study or professional continuing education.

Teachers, Extension, Consultants

Educators are welcome to use the following materials in their classrooms and educational programs. More modules… All materials except the video FAQs are available in a single ZIP file for easy download. Download animal mortality curriculum ZIP file….

Acknowledgements

Authors: Joshua Payne, Oklahoma State University; Jean Bonhotal, Cornell University; Shafiqur Rahman, North Dakota State University

Reviewer: Thomas Bass, Montana State University

Building Environmental Leaders in Animal Agriculture (BELAA) is a collaborative effort of the National Young Farmers Educational Association, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Montana State University. It was funded by the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) under award #2009-49400-05871. This project would not be possible without the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Community and the National eXtension Initiative.

Alternative Poultry Litter Storage for Improved Transportation and Use As a Soil Amendment

Waste to Worth: Spreading science and solutions logoWaste to Worth home | More proceedings….

Abstract

Transportation of poultry litter out of nutrient limited watersheds such as the Illinois River basin (eastern Oklahoma) is a logical solution for minimizing phosphorus (P) losses from soils to surface waters. Transportation costs are based on mass of load and distance transported. This study investigated an alternative litter storage technique designed to promote carbon (C) degradation, thereby concentrating nutrients for the purpose of decreasing transportation costs through decreased mass. Poultry litter was stored in 0.90-Mg conical piles under semipermeable tarps and adjusted to 40% moisture content, tested with and without addition of alum (aluminum sulfate).

An additional study was conducted using 3.6-Mg piles under the same conditions, except tested with and without use of aeration pipes. Samples were analyzed before and after (8 wk) storage. Litter mass degradation (i.e., loss in mass due to organic matter decomposition) was estimated on the basis of changes in litter total P contents. Additional characterization included pH, total nutrients, moisture content, total C, and degree of humification. Litter storage significantly decreased litter mass (16 to 27%), concentrated nutrients such as P and potassium (K) and increased proportion of fulvic and humic acids. The addition of aeration pipes increased mass degradation relative to piles without aeration pipes. Nitrogen volatilization losses were minimized with alum additions. Increases in P and K concentrations resulted in greater monetary value per unit mass compared with fresh litter. Such increases translate to increased litter shipping distance and cost savings of $17.2 million over 25 yr for litter movement out of eastern Oklahoma.

Why Study Alternative Poultry Storage

Due to the specialization and integration of the modern poultry industry, poultry farms have the potential to import more nutrients than what is exported from the farm in the form of animal and plant products.  In the past, phosphorus (P) imported in poultry feed often remained on-farm in the form of poultry litter, a mixture of bedding material and manure. This litter was often land applied at rates to meet crop nitrogen (N) needs which resulted in soil (P) buildup on some farms.

Because the nutrient ratio in litter is different from that of plant nu­trient requirements, careful consideration must be taken when land applying to avoid over-application of certain nutrients, pri­marily P. If poultry litter land application is not properly managed, excess P application could degrade water quality through runoff into surrounding surface water resources. These concerns have led to environmental regulations, litigation, and successful efforts to move poultry litter outside of critical watersheds.  However, since poultry litter nutrients are not as concentrated as commercial fertilizer, transportation cost is the most limiting factor for exporting poultry litter away from nutrient sensitive watersheds.

The alternative litter storage technique described below promotes degradation of litter carbon, which appreciably reduces the total mass of the litter and also increases the phosphorus and potassium concentrations compared to fresh or normally stored litter.  The advantage of this process is that the final product (degraded litter) can be transported at a lower cost per lb of nutrients, or put another way, it can be transported greater distances before the transport cost exceeds manure value.

What Did We Do?

We developed a process for degrading litter, particularly organic C, with little monetary and labor inputs.  Decreasing litter mass and retaining nutrients means more efficient transport and application of litter.  In order for the process to be effective only two requirements are necessary: adjustment of litter dry matter to 0.60 (weight solids/total weight) and covering with a suitable tarp.  The process was designed to use little time, money, and effort compared to a traditional composting system that involves addition of bulking agents that would increase litter mass and dilute phosphorus concentration.

Step 1. Uniformly add enough water to decrease dry matter content to 0.60.  The amount of water (gallons) to be added per ton of litter is calculated as:

For example, poultry litter with a dry matter of 0.70 (30% moisture content) would require 57 gallons of water per ton of litter.  The water can be applied with a hose after the flow rate of the hose (in gallons per minute) is determined.  Knowing the total weight of litter to be treated and the necessary volume of water from the previous equation, the necessary “spray time” (in minutes) can be determined by:

For example, a 25 ton litter pile with 0.70 dry matter (from the previous example) would require 1,225 gallons of water that can be provided by spraying a hose with a flow rate of 20 gpm for 71 minutes.

Water can be applied as the litter pile is being mixed with a front end loader or while being dumped at a new location.  You could estimate the litter weight in a bucket load and apply the amount of water necessary for that amount of litter while it is slowly being dumped in forming the new pile.  Typical poultry litter at cleanout has a density of 35 lbs/ft3.  You could also apply water while litter is being directly poured out of a dump-bed.

Step 2. Cover the pile with a semi-permeable tarp.  We used a typical polyethylene tarp (6 mil thickness and 10 mesh) considered low to medium weight purchased from a local hardware store.  The purpose of the tarp is to prevent the pile from drying too quickly, allow some oxygen to diffuse into the pile (preventing anaerobic conditions), prevent rainfall contact, and reduce the amount of ammonia volatilization.  According to Oklahoma regulations all litter piles must be covered or bermed.

Step 3: Choose one of the following options:

Option 1:  Never turn or mix the litter and simply allow the pile to remain covered for two months.  Although this method is effective at degrading litter and reducing mass, research shows that the piles turned after one month will degrade more than piles not turned (Table 1).

Option 2: Mix the litter after one month using a front end loader or some type of heavy equipment.  This introduces more oxygen into the system and mixes the inner portion of the pile with the outer portion.  Re-cover the pile with the tarp and allow further degradation for an additional month.

Option 3: Construct a framework of perforated pipe within the pile (no pile turning).  For our 6 ton piles, we used 4 inch diameter perforated PVC pipe laid on the ground in the shape of a cross with a single vertical pipe extending from the center.  Litter was dumped directly on top of this pipe framework with the vertical pipe extending out from the top of the pile.  The tarp is still necessary for this process.  The perforated pipe system allows for greater aeration of the pile without the need for turning or mixing.  We found that this system resulted in greater litter degradation (i.e. mass reduction) compared to the static piles with no pipes (option 1; Table 1).

What Have We Learned?

Table 1.  Impact of the litter degradation storage process on percent mass reduction, nutrient content, and litter value after a two-month period.  Nutrient content is shown on a dry mass basis.  Litter value is expressed on both a dry and wet mass basis.

Litter Treatment Dry matter (w/w) % mass reduction N P2O5 K2O

Value

Dry

Value

Wet

Lb/lb —Lbs/ton— –$/ton–

Initial

0.66

88

82

82

144

111

 No turnover (option 1)

0.67

14.9

80

94

94

152

119

One month turnover (option 2)

0.65

19.6

80

103

100

160

123

Aeration pipes (option 3)

0.77

23.0

74

104

101

157

134

Economic Savings

As a result of the litter carbon degrading to carbon dioxide, the storage techniques are able to reduce litter mass from 15 to 23% and concentrate the nutrients (Table 1).  This concentration of nutrients increases litter value per ton.  Also notice that although the process involves adding water to reduce dry matter to 0.6, the litter does dry out to levels similar to the original litter.  The aeration pipes allowed the litter to dry more than the original litter.  This drying effect also increases the litter value on a wet weight basis.  Litter value was based on the concentration of N, P2O5, and K2O and current fertilizer prices.  Based on the value of the wet litter shown in Table 1, a standard tractor-trailer load (24 tons) of normal (non-degraded) litter is worth $2,664 while degraded litter from our research piles varied from $2,856-$3,216.  The higher economic value of the degraded litter means that it can be transported greater distances than normal litter before the transport cost exceeds the litter value (i.e. break even distance).  For example, assuming a purchase cost of $15/ton litter, $24/ton for loading, unloading, and application, and transport cost of $0.16/ton/mile, the normal litter can be transported 398 miles while degraded litter can move 444 to 525 miles.  If all poultry litter from Eastern Oklahoma was stored using these degradation techniques, the increased economic benefit would be about 10 million dollars after 5 years and about 32 million dollars after 25 years, compared to transporting normal litter (Figure 3).

The higher nutrient density (P2O5 and K2O) of the degraded litter will also reduce application costs since less litter will be required to bring soil test phosphorus concentrations to agronomic optimum levels.  In addition, degraded litter was more uniform in particle size, darker in color, and had less offensive odors compared to normal poultry litter.

Figure 2. Oklahoma economic benefit of transportation of degraded poultry litter resulting from an alternative storage technique, relative to fresh litter.

Poultry litter haulers and those receiving poultry litter will gain the most benefit from this process since haulers can transport more nutrients per load and the receivers need not purchase as much degraded litter as normal litter due to greater nutrient density.

Future Plans

Study the impact of land application of the degraded litter on crop growth and soil quality.

Authors

Chad J. Penn, associate professor of soil & environmental chemistry, Oklahoma State University; chad.penn@okstate.edu

Jeff Vitale, associate professor of agricultural economics, Oklahoma State University

Josh Payne, area animal waste management specialist, adjunct associate professor, Oklahoma State University

Additional Information

Penn, C.J., J. Vitale, S. Fine, J. Payne, J.G. Warren, H. Zhang, M. Eastman, and S.L. Herron.  2011.  Alternative poultry litter storage for improved transportation and use as a soil amendment.  J. Environ. Qual. 40:233-241.

http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-8111/PSS-2268…

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Why Is It Important To Manage Animal Mortalities Properly?

Improperly disposed livestock or poultry carcasses represent a threat to water and air quality.

Proper management of on-farm animal mortalities is vital to every farming operation. Improper disposal of dead animal carcasses can negatively impact surface water and groundwater from carcass leachate. If the animal died of an infectious disease, pathogenic bacteria and viruses may be present within the carcass. These pathogens can be spread by insects, rodents, preda­tors, and subsurface or above ground water movement, as well as through direct contact with other livestock or poultry leading to increased disease transmission risks. Furthermore, many states have rules regulating the proper disposal of livestock and poultry mortalities. Therefore, the purpose of proper mortality disposal is to prevent the spread of infectious, contagious and communicable diseases and to protect air, water and soil quality. Note that regulated AFOs must abide by their animal mortality disposal plan outlined in their nutrient management plan.

Check out the other video FAQs on carcass management

Author: Joshua Payne, Oklahoma State University

Reviewers: Shafiqur Rahman, North Dakota State University and Jean Bonhotal, Cornell University

What Are Common Animal Mortality Disposal Options

Managing dead animals is not pleasant, but is a necessary task for most livestock and poultry farms. This video discusses several options for disposing of carcasses in an environmentally responsible manner.

In most states, commonly approved disposal options include: burial, landfills, incineration, rendering and composting.

Burial

Perhaps the most common method of disposal is burial. Most states have regulatory burial guidelines outlining site location, distance from waterways, depth to groundwater, etc. When proper guidelines are followed, burial is a safe option. However, poor site selection, such as sandy soils or areas with high water tables, may pose a threat to groundwater. Furthermore, burial does not convert the carcass into a valuable by-product. Variable equipment and labor costs will influence the economic viability of this disposal option.

Landfills

Disposing of carcasses at a licensed landfill that accepts animal mortalities is another form of burial. Landfills may require notification before delivery and/or documentation from a licensed veterinarian stating the cause of death. Landfill tipping fees should be assessed and may range from $20 to $30/ton. Other considerations are transportation costs and breeches of biosecurity by moving carcasses off- farm. Similar to burial, a valuable by-product is not produced.

Incineration

Incineration is a safe and effective means of carcass disposal, especially from the standpoint of biosecurity. The carcass is completely consumed by fire and heat within a self-contained incinerator utilizing air quality and emissions controls. Some states may require air quality permits. Incineration is mainly designed for smaller carcasses and fuel costs should be considered. Due to odor and emission concerns, open air incineration (burning) is not recommended and banned in some states. Furthermore, obtaining complete consumption of the carcass in a timely manner is often difficult to achieve. Burning should only be used in emergencies for controlling infectious or contagious diseases with permission from a regulatory body.

Rendering

Another recommended carcass disposal method is rendering. This is a heat driven process that cooks the product while killing pathogens and converting it into a value-added product such as an animal feedstuff. These feedstuffs, such as meat and bone meal, are generally used as pet food ingredients. Although rendering is a very effective method, currently, there are few render­ing services available. The transportation expense of collecting small volumes creates a financial obstacle for most rendering companies. Some rendering facilities require the producer to transport carcasses to the plant and pay a fee. Biosecurity and disease transmission risks should be considered when allowing vehicles on the farm and when transporting carcasses off-farm.

Composting

Composting dead animal mortalities is an inexpen­sive, biosecure and environmentally sound approach to addressing the issue of carcass disposal. By definition, composting is a controlled biological decomposition pro­cess that converts organic matter into a stable, humus-like product. The carcass (nitrogen source) is buried in a bulking agent (carbon source), such as wood shavings, allowing for the proper carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N) required by microorganisms to successfully decompose the carcass while absorbing excess moisture and filtering odor. The high temperatures achieved through proper composting will destroy most pathogens. Microorganisms will degrade the carcass leaving only a few small bone fragments, which are brittle and break easily. This valuable by-product can then be land-applied as a fertilizer source, adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil or recycled for new compost piles. As with burial, site selection is important. The site should be located in an area that does not pose a risk to surface or groundwater contamination.

Alternative methods:

Alternative methods are not specifically defined. They may include homogenization, digestion or chemical processes and technologies to recover products from mortalities.

 

Check out the other video FAQs on carcass management

Author: Joshua Payne, Oklahoma State University

Reviewers: Shafiqur Rahman, North Dakota State University and Jean Bonhotal, Cornell University

How Can I Manage Multiple Animal Mortalities?

Sometimes, a disease outbreak or natural disaster results in many livestock or poultry carcasses that must be managed. Disposal of these requires additional planning to ensure this is done in an environmentally responsible manner.

During catastrophic events when multiple livestock losses occur, a producer’s routine mortality disposal plan may be inadequate. In these instances, multiple disposal options may need to be considered. Burial, rendering, landfills, composting and incineration or a combination thereof are recommended options. All catastrophic events should be reported to the appropriate state agency. If a catastrophic mortality event is the result of disease outbreak, bio-security considerations may dictate the method of transportation and disposal.

Check out the other video FAQs on carcass management

Author: Joshua Payne, Oklahoma State University

Reviewers: Shafiqur Rahman, North Dakota State University and Jean Bonhotal, Cornell University

Why Do Animal Carcasses Need Proper Disposal (and Should Not Be Abandoned)?

Abandoning animal carcasses and allowing scavengers to dispose of them is risky.

Though dragging off a carcass to the boneyard has been a historical practice, abandonment is NOT recommended and is likely ILLEGAL in most states. Examples include: carcasses abandoned on the surface, in open pits, ditches, water features and sinkholes or in wells. Abandonment promotes extreme biological and disease hazard, threats to water quality, odors, flies, scavengers, rodents and visual pollution.

Check out the other video FAQs on carcass management

Author: Joshua Payne, Oklahoma State University

Reviewers: Shafiqur Rahman, North Dakota State University and Jean Bonhotal, Cornell University

Livestock and Poultry Mortality Management Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Scroll through the slideshows below to see many of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about managing animal carcasses. After each question you can play a short (1-2 minute) video or scroll to the next question. Also see the page “Managing Livestock and Poultry Mortalities“. This series of short (<2 minutes each) videos is also gathered into playlist on YouTube.

Options to Dispose of Livestock and Poultry Carcasses

Options for Managing Animal Mortalities

No farmer or ranch likes to lose an animal, but the need to dispose of livestock or poultry carcasses is an inescapable part of farming.

Storified by LPE Learning Center · Thu, Oct 04 2012 09:09:17

Why Is It Important to Manage Animal Mortalities Properly?
FAQ(v): Why is proper livestock disposal important?lpelc
What Are the Options for Animal Mortality Management?
FAQ(v): What are some common animal mortality disposal methods?lpelc
Animal Mortality Composting
FAQ(v): What is animal mortality composting?lpelc
Burial of Dead Animals
FAQ(v): Is Burial an Option for Managing Animal Mortalities?lpelc
Rendering Animal Mortalities
FAQ(v): Can I use rendering as an option for livestock mortalities?lpelc
Incineration For Managing Animal Mortalities
FAQ(v): Can I use incineration as an option for livestock mortalities?lpelc
Land Fills As An Option for Animal Carcasses
FAQ(v): Can I use landfills as an option for livestock mortalities?lpelc

Composting Animal Mortalities

Composting Animal Mortalities

One option for managing livestock or poultry carcasses is composting. What are some of the most frequently asked questions when people first consider composting dead animals?

Storified by LPE Learning Center · Thu, Oct 04 2012 09:31:49

What Is Animal Mortality Composting?
FAQ(v): What is animal mortality composting?lpelc
Why Should I Consider Composting Animal Mortalities?
FAQ(v): Why should I consider composting livestock mortalities?lpelc
How Long Does Animal Mortality Composting Take?
FAQ(v): Approximately how long does livestock or poultry mortality composting take?lpelc
Economics of Composting Livestock Mortalities
FAQ(v): How much does livestock mortality composting cost?lpelc
What Are the Materials Needed for Composting Livestock or Poultry Mortalities (C:N Ratio, Moisture, etc.)?
FAQ(v): What are the necessary materials for composting livestock mortalities?lpelc
What Carbon Source Should I Use For Composting Livestock Mortalities?
FAQ(v): What carbon source can I use to compost animal mortalities?lpelc
When Should You Turn a Compost Pile Containing Animal Mortalities?
FAQ(v): How do you know when to turn the livestock mortality compost pile?lpelc
Will Odors Be a Problem When I Compost Animal Carcasses?
FAQ(v): Is odor a concern when composting livestock mortalities?lpelc
Will Scavengers Be a Problem When I compost Animal Carcasses?
FAQ(v): Are scavenger animals a concern when composting livestock or poultry mortalities?lpelc
Can I Compost Dead Animals In the Winter?
FAQ(v): Can you compost livestock or poultry mortalities in the winter?lpelc
Do the Bones Break Down When Composting Carcasses?
FAQ(v): Do the bones break down? If not, what should I do with them?lpelc

Catastrophic Mortality Management

Catastrophic Mortality Management

Sometimes fires, natural disasters, disease, or other problems unfortunately result in the loss of large numbers of livestock. If you do not plan ahead, you could be overwhelmed if this situation occurs for you.

Storified by LPE Learning Center · Thu, Oct 04 2012 10:42:04

What Happens If I Have Multiple Animal Mortalities?
FAQ(v): What if I have multiple livestock mortalities?lpelc
Composting Catastrophic Poultry Mortalities Using the Mix and Pile Method
Composting Catastrophic Poultry Mortalities In-House Using the Mix and Pile Methodlpelc
Composting Catastrophic Poultry Mortalities in Outdoor Windrows
Composting Catastrophic Poultry Mortalities in Outdoor Windrows.mp4lpelc

Related Information

  • eXtension: Managing Livestock and Poultry Mortalities
  • June, 2009 webcast presentation on Managing Livestock Mortalities Discusses regulations and an overview of several methods with an emphasis on composting.
  • LPES Curriculum Mortality Review
  • Question #27119, What is animal carcass composting? link
  • Question #27787, How critical are carbon to nitrogen ratios (C:N) in large carcass mortality composting? link
  • Question #27171, Should we be concerned about E. coli O157:H7 in manure compost? link
  • Question #27172, By what factor does composting manure reduce the pathogens present? link

Author: Joshua Payne, Oklahoma State University

Reviewers: Shafiqur Rahman, North Dakota State University and Jean Bonhotal, Cornell University

What Is Animal Mortality Composting?

The need to dispose of livestock or poultry carcasses is an inevitable part of farming and ranching. What is this process and is it environmentally sound?

Composting is a natural process in which microorganisms convert organic matter into a stabilized product termed compost, which can then be used as a beneficial soil amendment.  In the case of livestock mortality composting, the carcass can be placed in a compost bin. At this location, we have used net wire supported by t-posts as our compost bin. The carcass is then covered with a supplemental carbon source. In this case, we have used wood shavings mixed with manure. The carcass is then allowed to decompose through natural microbial activity which breaks down both soft tissue and bones. This process usually takes several months to form a stabilized product.

Check out the other video FAQs on carcass management.

Author: Joshua Payne, Oklahoma State University

Reviewers: Shafiqur Rahman, North Dakota State University and Jean Bonhotal, Cornell University