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Extension > Horse Extension - Research Updates > Composting carcasses

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Composting carcasses

Using stall cleanings is effective in composting.

Thousands of horse carcasses are disposed of every year in the US. Burial, rendering, and use of landfills were once the most frequently used means of carcass disposal, yet environmental and water quality regulations have limited their use. Research exists regarding composting of poultry and swine carcasses, yet little data has been obtained for larger ones. The equine industry needs to explore alternative disposal methods.

The objective of this research, conducted at West Texas A & M University, was to determine the length of time needed to complete the compost process, and the types of composting materials best suited for degrading equine carcasses. Three treatment materials were used; stall cleanings (SC), cattle manure (CM) and a mix of cattle manure and hay (CM+H). Compost pile temperatures during the study indicate that SC was more effective for composting. Treatment CM+H had a higher moisture content as compared to SC and CM. Upon visual inspection, carcass decomposition appeared more complete in SC piles when aerated at 90 days as compared to CM and CM+H.

Results indicate that properly monitored compost piles made with SC maintain a temperature more conducive to composting as compared to CM and CM+H, resulting in a more effective and timely disposal of equine carcasses.

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