Composting as a Means of Disposal of Sheep Mortalities

Stanford, K.; Larney, F.J.; Olson, A.F.; Yanke, L.J.; McKenzie, R.H.
March 2000
Compost Science & Utilization;Spring2000, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p135
Academic Journal
Four studies explored the feasibility of year-round composting of lamb and mature sheep mortalities within the and climate of the Canadian prairies. In all studies, a ratio of 2:1:1 (manure: mortalities: chopped straw) was maintained, although depth of the mortality layer within the bin, number of layers of mortalities per bin, age of animal (lamb or mature sheep) and time of year (summer or winter) were varied. Composting neonatal lambs in the spring/summer was successful whether a single layer (n=15 lambs, weight 99.7 kg) or two, separated layers of mortalities (n=41 lambs, weight 198 kg) were added to a 2.4 m3 open bin. Residual bone, wool and soft tissues were negligible after the lamb compost had completed one heating cycle. In contrast, composting mature sheep in the fall/winter was more difficult due to: (1) over wet manure (31% dry matter) resulting in continuous anaerobic decomposition of carcasses; (2) fat/grease accumulation when composting a layer of carcasses 71 cm in depth (weight of sheep 1020 kg). For mature sheep mortalities, 2 heating cycles were required to eliminate soft tissues and wool. As compost in all studies heated in excess of 60 Celsius in the primary and/or secondary bin, bacterial isolates taken after the compost completed the secondary heating cycle were all innocuous species. Provided that compost is protected from excessive moisture and compost is aerated by turning into a secondary bin, a 2:1:1 (manure:mortalities:straw) ratio allowed for year-round composting of lamb and mature sheep mortalities.


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