Put Composting To Work

Livestock mortality is a fact of life for farmers composting is an economical way to deal with livestock carcasses that protects the environment and returns animals slowly to the soil.

Published on: Oct 31, 2013

Livestock producers looking for an economical and environmentally beneficial way to deal with dead animals can earn livestock mortality composting certification through a course offered by experts from Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Livestock mortality happens on all livestock and poultry farms at some point for a variety of reasons, including illness, old age, natural disasters and birthing problems, says Clif Little, an educator with the college's outreach arm, Ohio State University Extension.

In Ohio, there are four approved methods for disposing of livestock mortality: composting, incineration, burial and rendering. Composting is the most economical because it not only saves farmers money, it also protects the environment and returns animals slowly to the soil, Little says.

Put Composting To Work
Put Composting To Work

"Livestock mortality happens on a regular basis, so producers have to be prepared to deal with the issue anytime and on an annual basis," he says. "Composting allows producers to recycle the animals and the leftover compost can be used to add nutrients to the soil."

And while burial is an option, the Ohio Revised Code requires not less than 4 feet of soil above the animal, which can be a challenge for producers when dealing with frozen or muddy soil conditions, Little says.

But certification is required by law if producers want to use composting as a method to deal with livestock and poultry mortality, he says.

"The workshop offers producers extensive training and runs through the entire process including how to do it, where it's done, how it's done and how to monitor the process," Little says.

The Ohio Mortality Composting Certification Workshop will be taught in multiple locations including:

  • Nov. 18 from 7-9 p.m. at the Mill Creek MetroParks Farm, 7574 Columbiana-Canfield Road, in Canfield. Registration is $20 by noon on Nov. 15 and includes a workbook and certificate. Details and a registration form may be downloaded at http://go.osu.edu/XQK.
  • Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the Putnam County office of OSU Extension, 1206 E. 2nd St. in Ottawa. Registration is $10 per farm and can be paid at the door. Pre-register by emailing Dale Ricker, an OSU Extension program specialist in swine, at ricker.37@osu.edu or calling 419-523-6294.