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Composting Poulty Mortality Emergency Response

Composting Poulty Mortality Emergency Response

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Published by Radu Iliescu

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Published by: Radu Iliescu on Jul 11, 2011
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Natural Rendering: Composting Poultry Mortality
Cornell Cooperative Extension
Cornell Waste Management Institute 
Ultimate Disposal of Avian Mortality -Current SituationThe Need: Consider Composting
Although New York State (NYS) has a relativelysmall poultry industry, farms produce approximately$86 million worth of processed poultry products thatare sold in NYS and around the world. There are over 300 farms that raise chickens, turkeys, ducks and other  birds for meat or egg production,as well as countless small back-yard
ocks.The poultry producers findthemselves, in many cases, withlimited disposal options. Pro-ducers need to manage routinemortality and depopulation,natural disasters, and diseaseoutbreaks. The poultry industryneeds a convenient, socially andenvironmentally acceptable, biosecure way of dispos-ing of carcasses.Poultry carcasses left to decay naturally aboveground or buried in shallow pits pose risks to surfaceand groundwater and endanger the health of domesticlivestock, wildlife and pets. Improper disposal may
Department of Crop & Soil Sciences Rice Hall Ithaca, NY 14853http://cwmi.css.cornell.edu 607-255-1187E-Mail: cwmi@cornell.edu
A “Composting Poultry Mortality” video clip complements this fact sheet and is available at: http://cwmi.css.cornell.edu/ai.htm 
Composting Livestock Mortality and ButcherWaste
(2002) – Jean Bonhotal (CWMI), Lee Telega (PRO-DAIRY), Joan Petzen (CCE Allegany/ Cattaraugus)
Composting Road Kill
(2007) – Jean Bonhotal, Ellen Harrison, Mary Schwarz (CWMI)
Composting Poultry Mortality
(2008) – Jean Bonho- tal, Mary Schwarz (CWMI), Nellie Brown (Cornell ILR)
Natural Rendering 
Fact Sheets: 
 Jean BonhotalMary SchwarzNellie Brown
also have implications for biosecurity of the
lls generally will not accept carcasses and arehesitant about accepting diseased mortality. Poultrycarcasses can be incinerated, but that method hasair quality rami
cations. Healthy spent birds can bemarketed for use in soups, stews and other processedmeat products when there is a large volume and theycan be shipped to market.When there is an outbreak of avian in
uenza or other diseases that can be easilyspread, the options become morelimited. It is important to movethe mortality as little as possible to prevent disease spread and ensure biosecurity of other poultry housesand neighboring farms. In NYS,a farmer can bury up to 100 birdsfrom a disease outbreak, but with burial there is no pathogen killand animals are placed closer tothe water table. Outbreaks with more than 100mortalities must be composted. Static pile compostinghas proven to be environmentally safe and effective,and better ensures biosecurity. It can be implementedfor a small number of birds as well as with farms ex- periencing catastrophic losses.Many people do not realize that composting mortalityis a legal and acceptable way of disposing of carcassesand poultry litter. They fear that if regulators
nd out,they may be cited and
ned. Regulators, on the other hand, fear that with the current disposal situation,farmers may cause problems with improper disposal.Composting can be accomplished in compliance withenvironmental regulations in many states, but check regulations in states outside of New York before youstart.
Small poultry farms employ a vari-ety of methods in raising meat birdsor laying hens, from housed and cage-raised to free-ranged or free-ranged but caged. Where free-rangestrategies are used there can be more potential for disease spread, as it willbe harder to contain and disinfect incases where birds are not contained in one location.
 New York StateDepartment of Environmental Conservation
The Emergency Response to Disease Control
Cornell UniversityCollege of Agriculture and Life SciencesDepartment of Crop and Soil Sciences
Natural Rendering: Composting Poultry Mortality
Cornell Waste Management Institute
Potential Environmental and Biosecurity Risk of Dead Animal Disposal:
Lowest risk 
Rendered or properly composted onthe farm.Buried 6 feet deep in appropriate soils and buried morethan 200 feet from a water body, watercourse, well or spring.Partially buried less than 6 feet deep or buried closer than 200 feet from a water body, watercourse, well or spring.Carcass is left outside for scavengers or to decay. Thisis very risky from an environmental standpoint and for disease transmission on farm.
Highest Risk 
Natural Rendering: Composting Poultry Mortality
Cornell Waste Management Institute
Composting provides an inexpensive alternative for disposal of all dead animals, including poultry. The tem- peratures achieved during properly managed compostingwill kill or greatly reduce most pathogens, reducing thechance to spread disease. Properly composted materialis environmentally safe and a valuable soil amendmentfor growing certain crops. In-house composting providesa controlled environment that reduces the need to movecontaminated manure, litter and birds from poultryhouses and provides better control of disease spread.
ts of Composting
Can kill pathogens and help control disease out- breaks.
Can be done any time of the year, even when theground is frozen.
Can be done with equipment available on mostfarms.
Relatively odor-free.
All sizes and volumes of animals can be compos-ted.
Egg waste and hatching waste can be composted.
Relatively low requirements for labor and manage-ment.
Choosing a Site & Considering a Pad
Pads are level areas constructed of compacted soil,asphalt, or concrete. They have several purposes, includ-ing water quality protection, providing a good workingsurface and allowing access through wet weather condi-tions. In dry conditions, most soil types provide a goodworking surface, but many will be problematic after astorm event or during spring thaw. Pads need to providea solid working surface so that machinery can functionthroughout the year. If composting is not a routine partof farm operations, it is unlikely that a pad is needed.However, emergency composting does require spaceon your land to construct the compost piles and takes 2to 8 weeks for the primary compost process and longer for the curing period that follows.With Avian In
uenza (AI), the birds should be movedas little as possible to ensure disease containment; litter and other organic material should be composted withthe birds. Poultry houses will be out of production for at least 10 to 14 days so that the
rst active stage of composting can be completed. After the compost isremoved from the building and placed in curing piles,the building can be totally disinfected. If it is not feasibleto compost in-house, composting should occur as closeas possible to the infected site to minimize movementof infected materials.
After depopulation:
 Birds may be moved within the poultry house or to a nearby area outside, most prob-ably by small payloader, forklift, or other machinery. Itis assumed that birds will be kept whole and added tothe pile as is. To minimize handling and thus preventcreating airborne dusts or aerosols, birds will not becrushed, tilled, or shredded before adding to the pile.Poultry litter, contaminated feed, and other such itemswill be added to the pile during the layering process.
Routine Mortality:
If there is not a disease concern,select a site that is well-drained and away from water-courses, sinkholes, seasonal seeps or other landscapefeatures that indicate the area is hydrologically sensitive.Make sure the piles are set up in a way that minimizesrisk to healthy animals. Select the same type of site for theoutside stage of composting after a disease outbreak.Moderate to well-drained, hard-packed soils withgentle slopes are well suited as composting sites. A slopeof about two percent is desirable to prevent pondingof water. Steep slopes are not satisfactory because of  potential problems with erosion, vehicular access, andequipment operation.Compost windrows should run up and down theslope, rather than across, to allow runoff water to move between the piles rather than through them (see
gure1). The initial site preparation will usually require grad-ing and may require an improved surface such as clothand gravel, asphalt or concrete (see Compost Pads fact
 Disease Concern - If composting is imple-mented in a situation where there is potential for the disease to spread, it is best to compost on the affected farm and preferably in thebuildings where diseased birds were living.
Figure 1. Pad slope graded to 2-4%.

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