Abstracts Accepted for Session 5: Carcass Management

Burial Site Assessment, Construction, and Management for Environmental Protection and Disease Control

Zoe McManama

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

The timely and competent assessment, construction, and management of burial sites for animal carcass disposal is imperative for disease control, environmental protection and effective decomposition performance. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the considerations that must be made during the three phases of burial, including carcass and leachate characteristics, soil types, groundwater impacts, risk assessment, construction logistics, and burial site management. Also discussed are measures that may be employed to improve burial site performance in the case of suboptimal conditions, and the development of an animal holding capacity matrix for carcass burial.

Equine Carcass Composting – a Commercial Composting Model for Routine Mortalities

Michelle Melaragno, Kimberly Anne May, DVM, MS

Auburn, Maine

Composting offers an environmentally responsible, economically viable method for equine carcass disposal, as compared to options such as in-ground burial, cremation, alkaline hydrolysis, rendering, and landfill disposal. After the death of their companion horse, owners face multiple dilemmas regarding suitable methods for the respectful disposal of the body. Limited options, municipal restrictions and expense are some factors horse owners must consider, frequently occurring in the case of an emergency. Chemical euthanasia of the horse may further limit alternatives due to concerns about environmental contamination or unintentional poisoning of domestic and wild animals. Due to the size of the carcass, owners often have inadequate means of handling, transportation and disposal as compared to the relative ease of these processes for small animals. Historically, available handling and disposal options are crude, difficult for owners to witness, and lack consideration and respect for the horse and the environment. The composting model detailed in this paper is performed at a designated commercial composting facility. Combining composting, also referred to as above-ground burial, with appropriate, specialized techniques for handling large animals provides an environmentally responsible disposal option that also respects the human-animal bond. This and similar models offer horse owners the same compassionate care they are accustomed to receiving with their smaller companion animals. Benefits of composting equine carcasses include: the ability to utilize waste bedding mixed with manure from horse farms; the production of a marketable end product (nutrient rich compost); elimination of soil and ground water contamination from the decaying carcass and from chemicals within the body (primarily euthanasia solution); the ability to reuse the composting area as compost piles are turned and reduce in size; acceptable degradation of barbiturate and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory residues, further reducing risks of environmental contamination. The purpose of this presentation is to provide the results of five years of composting equine mortalities, including the management of composting on a large scale. In this case, the success of a commercial carcass composting facility in Maine serves as a model for future environmental protection efforts. Over this five year period of time, composting privately owned animals has shown to be growing in acceptance and understanding. Horse owners, who are as deeply bonded and committed to their horses as to their smaller companion animals, expect that their equine partners will be handled in a respectful and compassionate manner even in death.

An Evaluation of the Efficacy of Composting as a Management Tool to Reduce the Viability of Newcastle Disease Virus

Mark A. King, Carla J. Hopkins, James J. King, Marc J. Averill

Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Augusta, Maine; Senior Consultant Engineer Elanco Animal Health

Between March 11, 2016 and June 1, 2016, a series of compost trials were conducted using wood shavings, animal bedding and egg waste containing viable strains of the Newcastle Diseases Virus (NDV) to determine if aerobic windrow composting could be used as a management tool to deactivate NDV in egg waste. Prior to initiation of composting activities, samples of the egg waste were taken to validate the presence of live NDV strains. The study design consisted building two 15-cubic-yard volume piles that were constructed on two separate days, Pile #1 on March 11, 2016 and Pile #2 on March 14, 2016. Piles were built in accordance with existing United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines for emergency poultry mortality management, “HPAI Outbreak 2014-2015 Mortality Composting Protocol for Avian Influenza Inflected Flocks” (Miller et. al, 2015). Both piles were built in a similar fashion using the following methodology: first, a 12-foot wide by 12-foot long by 12-inch thick base of wood shavings was laid out, followed by the addition of 6 cubic yards of an equal mixture of egg waste and animal bedding. Finally, a 12-inch thick cap of wood shavings was added on top of the mixture to provide insulation and odor control. Following initial construction, each pile was monitored daily for temperature, leachate activity, and odors for a 14-day period (Phase I). Daily temperatures were recorded at four fixed locations (North, South, East and West) at both 18-inch and 36-inch depths. At the end of Phase I, both piles were broken down and composite samples were taken for analysis to detect whether NDV was present. None was detected. Piles were then re-formed and water was added to achieve optimal moisture since the piles had become very dry over the course of Phase I. Piles were then monitored for an additional 14-day composting period (Phase II). On April 20, 2016, following the completion of Phase II, both piles were broken down and sampled once again for viable NDV, with no viable strains detected. At this point, the piles had completed the requirements of the USDA protocols and it was decided to combine them into a single pile. Water was liberally added as pile contents had, once again, dried significantly during Phase II. From this point, the new pile was monitored daily until June 1, 2016 and then allowed to continue curing on its own until September 1, 2016. Based on the above, we believe that composting, when applied appropriately, may be used as an effective tool to manage waste materials containing active Newcastle Disease Virus strains. Key Words: Compost, feedstocks, wood shavings, animal bedding, egg waste, Newcastle Disease Virus, NDV, and, USDA HPAI Composting Protocols.

Recent Demonstration Projects and the Field Application of Aboveground Burial for Carcass Disposal

Gary Flory, Robert Peer, Robert Clark, Mohamed Naceur Baccar

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Cooperative Extension and National Center of Zoosanitary Vigilance, Harrisonburg, VA

Carcass disposal continues to play a critical role in the effective management of animal disease outbreaks and natural disasters impacting agriculture. To explore the possible benefits of aboveground burial over traditional burial methods, our team conducted a demonstration project between 2015 and 2016 to optimize, evaluate, and operationalize aboveground burial as an alternative to existing large animal carcass disposal methods. The system design included a shallow trench excavated into native soil, a bed of carbon material and a layer of animal carcasses. Excavated soils are subsequently placed back in the trench forming a mound on which a vegetative cap is established. Finally, the perimeter of the mound was trenched to prevent the intrusion of surface water into the system. Based from the results from this project, aboveground burial was implemented to dispose of sheep infected with Foot & Mouth Disease in Tunisia in 2017. The presentation will discuss lessons learned from the demonstration project and the actual application of this method in the field. In addition, the presentation will include information on two similar demonstration projects that will be conducted by the same research team. The first project will be conducted in Texas in conjunction with the 6th International Symposium on Animal Mortality Management. This project will directly compare carcass decomposition with the aboveground burial, traditional deep burial, aerated static pile composting, and conventional windrow composting. The second project is funded by a grant from the Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS). This project will compare nutrient migration and carcass decomposition between traditional burial and aboveground burial in both sandy soils and heavier clay soils.