Thursday, March 3, 2011

Reader Question - What to do with dead animals

I want to have farm animals, chickens, goats, and pigs. What do you do if you find one dead? I can see digging a hole to bury a chicken, but a pig...or a goat?

I haven't ever had to deal with that, but I bet you some of our readers have, and they always have great advice.

If you are reading this and have advice on this, leave a comment! 


Allen said...

I think I might be well qualified to answer this question. Throughout high school and college it seemed like everytime something died it was my job to bury it. Goats, Chickens, whatever the cats and dogs dragged in snakes. If you look back in the old posts, you can read about the time we buried 70 chickens all ate once.

It came to a point that in highschool I saw a table of average salaries and saw Traditional Islamic Mortitions averated over $120k a year I though maybe I should be a muslim undertaker. Didn't go that route instead I'm studing economics.

If you need to bury something you just need a hole big enough to fit the body. You should avoid doing it to close to water sources so as to avoid tainting it. If your annimal is big enough it might be worth it to higher someone to come in and dig the hole with a tractor as my Dad did when we lost a horse. Also make sure there is enough dirt on top that no annimal digs up the dead.

My last word of advice is if your animal is large enough to not comfortable fit in a wheel barrow to haul it to the grave, get help. There is nothing worse than trying to manhandle a dead goat.

Dale Johnson said...

Everything that Allen said about burying is true. I help him bury those 70 chickens (see "disasters" on the topic section to the right on this blog). I also emphasize keeping the grave away from water sources and enough soil over the top of the carcass so no scavengers can dig it up.

The other option is composting. You would not put the resulting compost on your vegetable garden but it could go in other places.

At the University of Maryland we have taught dairy farmers how to compost 1,200 lb dairy cows since rendering plants will no longer take them. They lay down 2 feet of organic matter. They then lay the cow on top of it and cover it with another 2 feet of organic matter. In 12 months the cow is almost completely composted including most of the bones. Only a few remnants of larger bones remain. It is amazing what composting will do. A goat or pig would require a foot of organic matter underneath and over the top. Protect the compost pile from scavengers with wire mesh over the pile or a wire mesh fence. You could put the resulting compost around trees, shrubs, etc.


You may have a service in your area that hauls larger animals off for tallow. Check around.

Zach said...

I buried a couple pigs once. Made the mistake of not burying them deep enough. That's a mistake I won't make again. The family dog dug it up, mauled it, and dragged it around for a while.

If you're going to bury any dead animal, I would be sure to get it at least 3-4 feet below DON'T want it to find its way back to the surface.

Anonymous said...

Many places do have "knackers" who will haul off large animals (horses and cows, for example). Ask around local farmers and they can direct you to the local knacker. There is a substantial fee for this service (hundreds of dollars), but the animal's hide and other parts will be put back into the local economic cycle. The process of picking up the dead animals is not for the sentimental nor faint of heart, so it is best to arrange for the animal to be picked up without children or others who might be affected around.

Mike said...

I just took a load of garbage to the dump today and on there list of services it said that you could leave dead animals there for a fee. This would be another option.

Laura-Lisa said...

Most landfill garbage facilities will take dead animals. (that is where the vet sends them if you do not choose to cremate) If they are pets we green bury them in deep hole and cover with compost enzyme. If they are not a pet and we can not use for anything we send to the landfill. Also depends on why they died. If because of contagious medical issue we have burned them before in our fire pit as even if in a landfill I would never want to take the chance of contributing to another animal getting sick and further spread of disease.

UlrikeDG said...

If it has died "mysteriously", you could also contact your county extension office to see if they are interested. They may want to do a necropsy to find cause of death, after which, they will dispose of the body for you. This is good if the COD is something that could infect the rest of your flock/herd.

If the animal isn't huge (dwarf goat, for example), but you don't want to deal with digging a hole, contact a vet office about cremation. As long as you don't want your individual animal's ashes back, it doesn't cost too much.

Elizabeth said...

If you can't bury due to lack of space or equipment then the landfill certainly is a viable option. We live on Vancouver Island and the nearest landfill to us that takes animals is just south of Nanaimo in Cedar. The process is simple. You call first and they tell you a time to come, usually the next day. On arriving at the main gate you tell them who you are and that you're bringing in an animal and they'll direct you where to go. Then they'll usually get in a piece of equipment with a bucket, load up your critter and off they go. The staff were nice to us, it cost about $5 plus gas to get there, but for us who are renting farm space it was a good option and since our goat was euthanized we didn't want to bury it on the quiet and have that stuff leaching into our drinking water anyways. We have composted chickens and the guts from the pigs just in our regular humanure compost pile with success. After we're done we can take out the bones and send them in with the other kitchen bones into our compost bins picked up at the curb on recycling day.

Mrs. Farmer said...

I am very surprised that no one has suggested burning them yourself. Naturally the burn ordinances for your area may vary, but since we are allowed open burning during certain hours on certain days, we dispose of most our animals by fire.

We had to put down some chickens due to illness, and we already had an established fire ring in place, so we set up a large fire and burned them. There was minimal unpleasanst smelling smoke from feathers, and I'm sure you all know what cooking/burning chicken smells like, so it drew no negative attention from the neighbors.

I have no concerns for larger animals, either. While I would be devastated (financially, mostly) by the loss of a pig, I have no doubt that it could be creamated as well. After the sudden passing of my brother-in-law's 13+ year old, 120 lb pit bull, he built a huge bonfire around her in my yard, and we saw her off in a blaze of flame and smoke. Her remains were small enough that we could have easily put them in the regular trash (though I believe he chose to bury them).

It is not an option for everyone, but for us, fire is the way to go.

Michael Atkinson said...

You may want to consider throwing the dead animals into the water wells of a neighbor that has offended you. If a large enough offense has not yet been given, I'd recommend waiting because in my experience some neighbor or another eventually comes through to warrant the virulent poisoning. Consider using cold storage for the corpses while you wait.

We may have forgotten as a society, but fouling an enemy's water supply with rotting animal carcasses is a time-tested stategy that has served the greater good (of one group over another) for millenia. God bless and good luck.

Mrs. Farmer said...

Michael Atkinson,

I need to introduce you to my husband. LOL Your minds work in a similar fashion.

Michael Atkinson said...

They say great minds do?... ;)

Darren (Green Change) said...

For smaller animals that have didn't have a contagious disease, you can put them in a bucket with holes in the sides and bottom and suspend it over your chicken run. Flies will lay eggs in it, and the larvae will fall through the holes when they're ready to pupate. The chickens love them!

If you want to compost the bodies, try sprinkling Bokashi grains over them before covering. Man, that stuff will completely disintegrate the corpse!