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Extension > Horse Extension - Research Updates > Euthanasia drug and compost

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Euthanasia drug and compost

Avoid using compost containing sodium pentobarbital as fertilizer.

Composting is one option for disposing of a horse carcass after euthanasia. Researchers at West Texas A&M recently conducted a study to determine if residues of sodium pentobarbital, used in euthanasia, might remain in compost. Horses that had been euthanized by a veterinarian were composted with layers of hay and stall cleanings and mechanically aerated every 90 days. After six months, samples from eight different compost piles contained from 0.008 to 3.16 parts per million (ppm) sodium pentobarbital.

The research team is conducting further research to assign relevance to these numbers and learn more about the environmental fate of pentobarbital. Currently, researchers recommend avoiding the use of compost containing sodium pentobarbital as fertilizer. Care should be taken to compost euthanized animals in areas where residues are less apt to leach into ground water or run off into ponds or streams. Reprinted with permission of The Horse (www.TheHorse.com).

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