Kristi Cook


Have you ever tried to bury a horse with a shovel? Or a chicken in frozen ground? To avoid such difficulties and to prevent the spread of disease, groundwater contamination, foul odors, and pests, it’s wise to create a solid, actionable livestock disposal plan ahead of time. Landfills, rendering, and incineration are options available in many regions as well as the more traditional burial and composting, making a customized plan easier than ever.


Utilizing your local landfill is a good option, particularly if you lack the space, equipment, or facilities for other methods. The most significant benefit is the immediate elimination of the risk for disease transmission and groundwater contamination once the carcass is removed. Other benefits include the lack of maintenance tasks common with traditional gravesites and composting systems.

However, this option can be pricey and often requires livestock owners to have the ability to transport carcasses to the landfill. Regulations may also require disposal permits or a cause of death certificate from a veterinarian stating the animal was disease free and not chemically euthanized. Landfills also tend to regulate which species of livestock they will accept.

Incineration and rendering

While there are only a few of these facilities in the U.S., these two options are worth consideration when available. Boasting the same benefits as landfills, professional incineration — not to be confused with open air burning, which is illegal in many states — leaves behind nothing but ashes, which may then be carried home for burial or scattered in a field or garden. Rendering, on the other hand, basically "cooks" a carcass at high temperatures, producing bone meal and other feedstuffs that may be used as fertilizer or in animal feeds.

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