Mortality Composting

There is a saying, “If you raise livestock, you’ll also have deadstock”. Animal mortality is an issue faced by livestock producers. One way to handle the remains is to compost it into organic material.

Josh Payne is a former state poultry specialist at Oklahoma State University. He says the composting site should be elevated, and not in a low-lying area.

"The reason being is you do not want to try to compost in an area that’s going to collect a lot of water. The composting process is an aerobic process, which means it requires some oxygen flow through that compost pile. And if you have it in an area that’s too saturated, you could stop some of that oxygen flow," he says. "It would then go anaerobic and you wouldn’t have proper composting."

The animal is a nitrogen source and to break it down you need to add carbon material. Payne says wood chips, shavings, and waste hay mixed with manure are commonly used in this case.

Start building your compost pile with 18"-24" of the carbon source.

"If you’re composting one carcass then you would place that carcass in the center of that pile, and then basically cover the carcass with additional carbon material, covering it with 18”-24”. So, you want 18”-24” completely surrounding every part of that animal," says Payne.

Keep the pile about as moist as a wrung-out dishcloth, and monitor the temperature. It should heat up from 130-to-150-degrees. When the temperature drops, the pile can be turned, and the heating process will begin again.

Learn more about mortality composting of livestock