Livestock includes domesticated animals that are raised in a farm mainly for the purposes of profit. Raising animals is also part of modern agriculture where the animals are reared for a useful commercial purpose. Management of livestock diseases form part of an agricultural policy so as not to reduce productivity however, animal mortality cannot be avoided. It therefore becomes important for the agricultural policies to include disposal of animal carcasses for the prevention of diseases. Landfills are not option for disposal due to environmental considerations. Other technologies for disposal of animal carcasses would include incineration, composting, mass burial or open-pit burial.
Factors that require consideration in the disposal of animal carcasses
A disease outbreak, flood, hurricane or ingestion of contaminated feed can result into a large number of carcasses that have to be disposed due to its negative impact on the environment and disease control implications. Speed in decision making is very critical and an emergency management plan must be properly defined and established in short time. Legal authorities have to be advised particularly the Veterinary Administration who will assume leadership in controlling the outbreak of a disease so that neighboring farms will not be affected. All potential consequences have to be determined particularly financial losses to minimize the economic impact on the industry. Determining the availability of different technologies in the disposal of animal carcasses in the most efficient process should be firmly established.
Different technologies in the disposal of animal carcasses
- Incineration – is handled through a facility where the animal carcasses will be completely burned to ash. The process is usually fueled by gas and while there are gas emissions in the environment they are significantly controlled. However, costs of incineration can be prohibitive particularly with large number of animals. Municipal incinerators while effective for household and industrial waste may not be properly licensed for burning animal carcasses.
- Open pit burning – usually done on the farm fuelled by different materials with high energy content. While this process can be considered effective since the carcasses will not be transported to an incinerating facility, it has a negative impact to the environment. Furthermore, since burning of the carcasses is typically on an open field, it might create a negative reaction on the neighboring farms.
- Mass burial – the most cost effective and easiest manner of disposal of animal carcasses but certain municipalities do not approve of such process within their boundaries particularly if the weather, environmental and soil conditions may not be conducive for mass burial. Pollution of ground water is an also important consideration when deciding on mass burial as an alternative.
- Composting – when done properly, this process can be considered as environmentally friendly. It also tends to eliminate variety of pathogens. Composting can be done onsite whether in an open or closed system. It involves prior grinding of issues as well as the addition of organic material for satisfactory microbial maintenance. However, this process requires a significant amount of time and temperature of 700C must be maintained for the total time period.