Thermal Dehydration for the Disposition of Poultry Mortalities


In the past 50 years, the poultry industry has made tremendous advancements in production performance, resource utilization and environmental sustainability. However, mortality disposal remains a major challenge as traditional methods of carcass disposal such as burial, incineration, composting, and rendering pose significant risk (biosecurity, environmental pollution, odor, cost, etc.) to the future of the poultry industry.

In North America, approximately 1,500,000,000 pounds of broiler and 187,500,000 pounds of layer hen mortalities must be disposed of in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner without jeopardizing the biosecurity of the production facility nor the financial success of the producer.

What Did We Do

In response to growing concerns and regulatory requirements, an advanced thermal dehydration system has been developed for the disposition of poultry mortalities. This process utilizes simultaneous mixing and heating of the carcass materials in an enclosed drum to 194 F, which results in a 60% reduction in volume over a 12-hour cycle time.

Thermal Dehydration Process

This program was designed to understand the effectiveness, impacts, and opportunities of utilizing Agritech Thermal Disposal Systems thermal dehydration technology for the disposition of poultry mortalities in commercial poultry production facilities in the western United States.

TDS1300 Installation TX, USA
TDS1300 Installation TX, USA

What Have We Learned

Thermal dehydration technology has proven an effective, efficient, and easy method to manage poultry mortalities in commercial poultry production systems. Agritech Thermal Disposal Systems currently offers two models, a smaller single phase unit with a maximum capacity of 1300 pounds and a larger 3 phase unit with a maximum capacity of 2000 pounds per cycle.

The units are simple to operate, as all that is required is to load the mortalities and initiate the thermal dehydration process. There is no requirement for additional materials (carbon), mixing the materials nor manual cleanout, etc.. On average the unit requires 1 kilowatt of electricity per 9 pounds of mortalities processed. An economic analysis comparing thermal dehydration technology with currently used poultry mortality methods is presented below.


Mortality Disposal Comparison
20 Year Analysis
Based on processing 1000 lbs mortality per day
Rendering Traditional Incinerator High Efficiency Dual Burner Incinerator Rotary Composter TDS 1300
Fuel Source LPG LPG Wood shavings Electrical
Amount 2.5 gph 2.5 gph 3:1 ratio 1kW/9 lbs
Fuel per cycle 30 gallons 11.24 gallons 3000lbs 111kW
Cost per cycle $75 $75 $28 $42.5 $12.5
Cost per week $526 $525 $197 $298 $88
Cost per year $27,300 $27,300 $10,238 $15,470 $4,565
Cost per 20 year $546,000 $546,000 $204,750 $309,400 $91,291
Annual service cost $1,200 $835 $200 $200
Lifetime Service $20,400 $15,675 $3,800 $3,800
Replacement time (yr) 5 6.67 20 20 20
Purchase cost $1,000 $12,000 $32,972 $65,000 $55,000
20 year equipment cost $5,000 $36,000 $2,972 $65,000 $55,000
500G propane tank $2,000 $2,000
Building $75,000 $75,000
Installation cost $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $6,000 $3,000
Total investment $553,500 $606,900 $257,897 $459,200 $148,591
Per lb/cost $0.076 $0.083 $0.035 $0.063 $0.020
Handling Carcass handling cost equal
Fuel Cost 2.50$/gallon; 11.30 cents per KWh
Rendering Cost $0.75 per pound rendering pickup
Woodshavings: Average 37 lbs/cubic foot
Utilize 3 cubic yards per day
1500$/100 yard load delivered ($15/yd)
Recycle 50% from produced compost
Plus 30 minutes additional handling per day-20$

Based on industry performance statistics, a 100,000 head broiler facility would produce approximately 3 supersacks/totes of “meat powder” per flock. The resultant “meat powder” is a stable, odor free, sterile byproduct which can be field applied, integrated into commercial fertilizer or utilized in further processing. Compositional analysis has consistently demonstrated a moisture content of approximately 20%, a nitrogen level of 10%, phosphorus of 0.5% and potassium of 0.6%.

“Meat Powder” Produced from Thermal Dehydration Technology

The range in particle size of the resultant “meat powder” was determined through sieve testing in accordance with ANSI/ASAES319, with an average particle size of 560 microns with a standard deviation of 5.06.

Environmental impact analysis of the thermal dehydration process of poultry mortalities has demonstrated that there are no visible emissions from the thermal dehydration unit, other than water vapor.

Further emissions testing has shown total particulate emission rate averaged 0.0066 lb./operating hour, semi-volatile Organic Compounds (SVOCs) were all below the minimum detectable limit and the total combined speciated Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emission rate averaged 0.0067 lb./operating hour, with all individual compounds below regulatory thresholds.

Future Plans

The long-term evaluation program of thermal dehydration technology for the disposition of poultry mortalities continues, with special emphasis on understanding the opportunities to utilize the “meat powder”. These efforts include conducting amino acid profiling, understanding the impacts on quality from long-term storage and determining the optimal handling system.

Thermal dehydration technology has gained international approval for the disposition of animal mortalities, has recently been permitted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and is currently undergoing regulatory review in numerous jurisdictions throughout the United States.


Jeff Hill, President, Livestock Welfare Strategies

Additional Authors

Danny Katz, Agritech Thermal Disposal Systems, Anissa Purswell, Eviro-Ag Engineering, Inc.

Additional Information


H and R Agricultural Solutions LLC 1592 Southview Circle Center, Texas 75935

Videos, Slideshows, and Other Media

AgriTech Thermal Disposal Systems – YouTube


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