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Livestock mortality is an unfortunate but inevitable part of raising animals. As responsible livestock producers, it’s important to implement production and handling practices to minimize the occurrence of livestock death. Additionally, it’s essential to equip ourselves with knowledge, proper planning, and the technology needed to deal with dead farm animals or deadstock.

In California, the disposal and management of deadstock is governed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Animal Health Branch. According to CDFA, the most common options for deadstock disposal in California include:

  • Rendering: This is the process of converting animal carcasses into usable by-products such as animal feed, bone meal, and other products. Rendering plants are located throughout California and provide a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution for deadstock disposal.

  • Burial: This involves burying the animal carcass on the farm or ranch. The CDFA has specific guidelines for the burial of deadstock, including depth, distance from water sources, and requirements for a cover material such as lime or soil. The burial of deadstock on farms is regulated by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board.

  • Composting: Composting dead animals involves creating a pile of organic material, such as wood chips or straw, and placing the animal carcass on top. The pile is then monitored for temperature and moisture to promote decomposition. Composting is an effective and environmentally friendly way to dispose of deadstock, and the resulting compost can be used as fertilizer.

  • Incineration: This involves burning the animal carcass in a specially designed incinerator. Incineration is a costly option but can be a good choice for small-scale operations.

When choosing a disposal method for deadstock, California livestock producers should consider the following factors:

  • 1. The size and weight of the animal
  • 2. The number of dead animals and the frequency of mortality events
  • 3. The location of the farm or ranch
  • 4. The availability of equipment and resources for each disposal method
  • 5. The cost and environmental impact of each method

California livestock producers must also comply with CDFA regulations and local laws governing the disposal of dead animals. The CDFA requires that deadstock be disposed of within 24 hours of death, and prohibits the disposal of dead animals in landfills or bodies of water.

In addition to disposal options, California livestock producers should also have a plan in place for the proper storage and handling of dead animals. Dead animals should be removed from public view and stored in a secure location that is inaccessible to scavengers and predators. Producers should also take measures to prevent the spread of disease by properly sanitizing equipment and clothing after handling dead animals.

In conclusion, the proper disposal of deadstock is an important aspect of livestock production. By following CDFA regulations and local laws, you can ensure that deadstock is disposed of in an environmentally responsible and cost-effective manner.

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