My husband and I always talked about how sad we would be when our favorite breeding sheep, Johanna and Thor, eventually died of old age.
We never planned on sending these two to the slaughterhouse because they were docile, great breeders, and just had wonderful sheep around the farm to live in.
We knew the day would come when they would pass. As such, we had a loose plan for how we would handle the disposal of our favorite farm animals if we found one of them dead in the pasture one day.
What we didn’t expect was that we would have to deal with this issue much sooner than we thought. However, it was not the case with those two particular individuals.
Last time, one of our little sheep fell on the snow and injured his leg.
After spending a lot of time trying to wake him up, trying to get him to eat, and giving him a whole lot of medical help, we finally had to give up.
Then the problem arose as to what we are going to do with the body. Fortunately, this sheep was so small that processing it and eating the meat was an option. If she was older or suffered from some mysterious illness, we would not have felt comfortable doing this.
While most people believe that farm animals can only be eaten after they die, this is not always the case. Often, animals die unexpectedly and a farmer is left in a very difficult situation. It can be quite difficult to figure out what to do with a farm animal after it has passed away.
Here is some advice on disposing of farm animals that you can follow if you ever find yourself in this situation.
initial steps to take
If an animal on your farm dies unexpectedly, the first and foremost thing you should do is to find out the cause of death.
In some cases, it may be obvious – we knew our sheep had fallen and injured ourselves.
However, it is very common for animals to die in more mysterious ways – especially sheep. Sheep are notorious for looking healthy one day, then dead the next. Often, it is caused by a disease or by parasites.
Finding out the cause of death is important because it will determine whether you can safely eat meat. If possible, it will solve many problems related to getting rid of the body.
Whether there is an injury, or an animal is making poor decisions such as its head getting stuck in a fence or feeder, you can usually eliminate the cause of death very quickly.
However, if the cause of death is not known (possibly due to an infectious disease), you will need to take additional steps.
It is a good idea to contact the vet. This is doubly true if you suspect a disease or are not sure who killed the animal. They may do tests to detect various factors.
Not only that, it is important to find out the cause of death when it comes to your surviving animals. If the animal has died from a disease or heavy parasite load, you will need to medicate, disinfect and quarantine your flock. It is important to be able to pinpoint exactly who killed your animal.
farm animal disposal
Once you know what killed your animal, the next question is – what should you do with it?
You have a few options.
1. Can you eat it?
Obviously, the least useless option, if that’s an option for you, is to eat an animal that has died.
However, there are many situations in which this is impractical. If your animal has died from diseases or parasites, it is probably not a good idea to eat it.
Also, eating the animal is really only an option if you have euthanized it. It can also work if you find it too soon after you die.
It is not a good idea to eat an animal that has been dead in the pasture for the past 6 hours.
Animal food is the best option on this list in terms of reducing waste. However, when it comes to logistics it may not be the easiest to accomplish.
There are plants all over the country that take carcasses of farm animals.
These plants reduce material from slaughterhouses, meat packing castoffs and farms. They process them into proteins, fats and oils that are used in things like animal feed, pet food, paint and cosmetics.
If you have a rendering plant, it’s a good idea to transport the carcass.
You will have to pay to transport the animal but you can search online for facilities in your area.
Composting from a dead farm animal is one of the best solutions for dealing with carcasses. This lets you make the most of the nutrients that are left behind.
It doesn’t take a lot of space, time, or effort, but will require some thinking and planning ahead of you.
In order for the body of a large farm animal to easily break down in a compost pile, that compost pile needs to be warm. There needs to be a lot of microbes in there for you to break down the carcass.
Not only that, but even in a very hot compost pile, you may need to add several inches of sawdust. This should be done above and below the carcass so that it does not smell.
You’ll also need a way (like a loader) to get the animal into the manure.
If you throw the carcass on top of the compost pile, you probably won’t like the result.
However, if you are able to compost the body effectively, you will be rewarded with nutrient-rich compost that can then go back to the ground. It’s a win that you’ll be able to dispose of the body and get some bonus fertilizer as well.
Burying farm animals is another common option for disposal but again, it won’t work for everyone.
You will need to bury it at the proper location and at the proper depth so that it does not contaminate the local water level.
The problem with burying a carcass too deep is that it will be so low in the ground that soil microbes will not be able to take advantage of it. This will choke off the nutritive potential of the carcass and will not do your farm much good.
That said, if your only goal is to get rid of the carcass instead of making the best possible use of it, then this shouldn’t be an issue.
The only other problem associated with burying a dead body is the time and labor involved. Unless you have a machine that is going to dig very hard for you, this will be challenging.
Digging a hole large and deep enough to bury a farm animal will require a fair amount of backbreaking work.
This is especially true if you have rocky soil!
In some cases, you may be able to burn a carcass, but it’s not something I recommend. The smell is going to be less than desirable.
Plus, most places have restrictions in terms of what you can burn. You also need to figure out what to do with the leftover pile of rubble.
Ask your vet if he thinks this is a good idea.
You also need to make sure that your animal hasn’t died from anything that could infect other animals, as burns don’t eliminate those risks.
Are there any other options?
When it comes to disposing of farm animals, the options I mentioned above are probably your best bet.
However, there are many other options – some people leave the carcasses of dead farm animals to feed on to wildlife.
The big problem with this is that you need a sufficient amount of property so that you don’t invite predators and pests near your home and farm.
Some people use dead carcasses to make food for animals such as fish and chickens.
The most common way to do this is to suspend the carcass or part of the carcasses in the air with a mesh cage.
Chickens can peck at the carcass as it decomposes, and when the flies lay their eggs there, they will be able to eat the maggots.
The most obvious issue with this is, well, it’s kind of disgusting! Also, if not all insects are eaten, they will turn into flies – which can create another problem for your farm entirely.
You can also cut up a carcass and feed the meat to your dog. If you’ve used any kind of medicine, if the animal is diseased, or the carcass smells bad, it’s not a good idea.
After all, you have a lot of options in how you decide to handle the disposal of a farm animal that has died prematurely.
Consider the best options for you, such as how the animal died, how long ago it died, and what kind of resources you have. You’ll definitely find the right solution in no time!
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