Carcass Composting How-To Event Offered

For years, large animal carcass disposal has been a problem. Not only are options to dispose of a large carcass limited, they can also be costly.

The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service is hosting a Field Day on large animal carcass composting Oct.14 at the Haskell County Fair Barn in Stigler. Research into this safe, economical alternative for livestock carcass disposal was funded by an Extension Team Initiative Program grant.

The field day will kick off at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 14. The basics of carcass composting will be discussed, as well as various methodologies, Oklahoma State University mortality composting research data, and a tour of field demonstration compost plots. The event will conclude at 3 p.m.

In the past, many livestock producers have chosen to leave dead carcasses exposed on the field or drag them to ditches or ravines. This is not only illegal in Oklahoma, it can also degrade surface and groundwater and result in increased disease transmission, endangering the health of humans, domestic livestock, wildlife, and pets.

"(Livestock producers) might not have enough land to leave them on top of the ground; they might not be able to bury them," said Brian Pugh, Haskell County Extension agricultural educator. "All the landfills now won't take carcasses like they used to so it leaves a guy with a lot fewer options."

OSU research indicates that high temperatures achieved through proper composting will destroy most pathogens and viruses, while microorganisms will degrade the carcass leaving only a few small, brittle bone fragments. This valuable byproduct can then be applied as a fertilizer source, adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil.

Those interested in attending the Large Animal Carcass Composting Field Day are asked to pre-register with the Haskell County Extension Office at 918/967-4330.

Read more about how this applies to horse owners at "Composting Could Be a Viable Alternative for Carcass Disposal." 

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