For active decomposition of animal carcasses, compost microorganisms require a source of nitrogen (N) (dead livestock or birds), carbon (C) (straw, corn stalks, shavings, litter, etc.), oxygen, water and elevated temperatures. An ideal C:N ratio should fall between 15:1 to 35:1. Oxygen (air) can be introduced when turning the compost. If proper moisture is not supplied, the organisms cannot survive. Ideally, moisture content should range from 45-55%, or wet enough when the compost is squeezed to leave your hand feeling moist, without actually forming drops of water. When all components are present in the correct ratio, the compost pile heats naturally, destroying most pathogens while microbial activity degrades the carcasses.
- Composting Animal Mortalities –Minnesota Department of Agriculture
- Composting Poultry Mortality in North Carolina –North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
- Composting Animal Mortalities on the Farm –University of Maryland Extension
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