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MSU researches new animal composting procedures

Michigan State University is researching best practices for mortality composting in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak.

Poultry outreach specialist Zac Williams tells Brownfield the avian influenza outbreak from December 2014 through June 2015 killed more than 50 million chickens and turkeys in the United States and left the industry grappling with how to properly dispose of carcasses.

“We can send them off to landfills, we can bury, there’s incineration, but there are problems with each of these.”

Currently, the USDA also recommends “windrow composting” which Williams says is very labor-intensive.  Instead, he’s studying using a dairy feed mixer and cover to breakdown carcasses which could also be used in other livestock species.

“These mixers are able to handle extremely large carcasses all the way up to a couple of thousand-pound carcasses of cattle or horses.”

Williams plans to petition the USDA to accept this type of mortality management, which found no additional virus spread, as a protocol for producers during a foreign animal disease outbreak.

Brownfield interviewed Williams during the recent Michigan Allied Poultry Industries Winter Seminar.

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