Emergency carcass disposal resources during COVID-19

Farmer resources

First and foremost farmers need to take care of themselves and their family. The COVID-19 pandemic may be adding to financial problems, price and marketing uncertainties, marital difficulties, and social pressures. You can call the Minnesota Farm and Rural Helpline anytime at 1-833-600-2670 to speak to someone.

Visit the Minnesota Farm and Rural Helpline website for more information and resources.

Carcass disposal

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health’s Downloadable Carcass Disposal Guide walks you through all the options and methods of approved carcass disposal in the state. Click the links below to access it in multiple languages:

It is illegal to dump a carcass on the landscape. If you butcher livestock, you must use one of the approved disposal methods outlined further down this page.

Need to talk to a carcass disposal expert?

You can call our Carcass Assistance Hotline at 651-201-6041 (this hotline is for livestock carcasses only) to schedule a one-on-one consultation to talk about livestock carcass disposal options, technical guidance, or get connected with contractors for equipment/materials.

 

Carcass Assistance Web Form

Overview of Carcass Disposal Options

Minnesota boasts a vast livestock population. Unfortunately, where there is livestock there will also be unexpected death loss. Proper disposal of animal carcasses is an important part of preventing the potential spread of disease and protecting air and water quality. Unless slaughtered for human consumption, animals that die need to be disposed of within 72 hours.

Backed by authority in Minnesota Statutes, our carcass disposal experts can help you figure out the best solution for each situation.

Legal methods of disposal

The following are all legal methods of disposal for poultry, swine, cattle, horses, sheep, goats and farmed cervids:

  • Compost
  • Render
  • Landfill
  • Incinerate
  • Bury

Household pets and wild animals are exempt by law. Consult city ordinance for household pets. Contact local animal control for wild animals. Contact the road authority for road kill (651-296-3000).

Contacts for additional information:

  • University of Minnesota Extension: 612-624-1222
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: 651-296-6300
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: 651-296-6157

Rendering

Rendering companies are the ultimate recyclers and provide a necessary service to livestock producers. Availability of rendering service in northern Minnesota is somewhat limited, but many producers in other parts of the state use rendering on a regular basis.

Vehicles that haul carcasses for rendering services need to be inspected and permitted by the Board, unless the vehicle belongs to the owner of the animal. To prevent disease spread and keep roads clean, carcasses and animal parts are transported in leak-proof vehicles or containers and covered. Please see the table below to find rendering companies in Minnesota, and note, the county column only describes their location. You can contact the individual plants to determine pickup routes and locations.

Licensed Rendering Companies County Phone Website Link
Central Bi-Products Plant A Todd 1-800-767-2569 https://www.centralbi.com/
Central Bi-Products Plant B Redwood 1-800-767-2569 https://www.centralbi.com/
Darling International Plant A Faribault 507-526-3296
Darling International Plant B Fillmore 507-526-3296
Leroy Job Trucking Sherburne 612-245-6085
Sanimax Dakota 651-451-6858 http://www.sanimax.com/
T-N-T Rendering Lyon 712-348-2407
West Central Sanitation Inc. Kandiyohi 320-235-7630 http://www.wcsanitation.com/
Worthington Rendering Company Nobles 507-376-4711

Composting

Composting is an inexpensive and environmentally-friendly way to dispose of animal carcasses. When done correctly, composting works for cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, and poultry.

There are only four ingredients needed to start and maintain a successful compost pile:

  • A carbon source, such as sawdust, wood chips or corn husks
  • Nitrogen (found naturally in manure)
  • Carcasses
  • Water

These ingredients are layered. As long as all animal parts are completely covered with the carbon source, the internal temperature of the pile should begin to rise within 24 hours. Once the temperature of the compost pile starts to drop, add oxygen by stirring the pile using a tractor or pitchfork. Make sure the pile is always damp by sprinkling with water if needed.

There are many ways to tailor composting to fit your situation. One example is the grind and compost method, which uses a chipping machine to process carcasses and wood chips simultaneously. The grind and compost method speeds up the composting process by mixing the materials.

Carbon Resources: COVID-19

This is a spreadsheet of companies with available carbon sources for composting. Please contact them directly for questions about availability and delivery.

Trucking Resources: COVID-19

This is a spreadsheet of companies with available trucking for carcass transportation. Please contact them directly for questions about availability.

Burial

Burial is an inexpensive and biosecure way to handle dead stock, but it must be done in such a way that minimizes risk of groundwater contamination. Before digging, request an emergency locate from Gopher State One Call at 800-252-1166 to find any power, pipe, or communications lines buried under your chosen site. Once the site is cleared, the next step is to check the level of the water table.

Above Ground Burial

Above-ground burial requires digging a shallow trench, lining it with a layer of carbon source, and placing a single layer of carcasses on top.  The excavated soil is replaced over the top of the carcasses and seeded to provide a vegetative cover.

Deep Burial

Before digging, check with your power company. Once the site is cleared, the next step is to check the level of the water table. Dig the hole as deep as needed to completely cover the carcass and prevent scavenging by other animals. Then, dig down an additional five feet. Carcasses must be buried five feet above the seasonal high-water table, so if you hit water you’ll need to find another location to bury.

Burial in sandy areas or areas within 10 feet of bedrock should be avoided. If you need a site assessment, complete the form above to contact one of our carcass disposal experts.

Incineration

Incineration is a cold-weather alternative to burial, but a more costly method of carcass disposal.

Carcasses must be incinerated in a Pollution Control Agency (PCA)-approved incinerator. Ash and gas emissions from the incinerator cannot exceed pollution standards set by the PCA.