Carcase disposal

It is important that when animals have been killed on-farm or in other situations outside the slaughterhouse, the carcases should be disposed of properly and promptly. Apart from the obvious environmental, public health and disease implications, this is often also a legal requirement. Therefore, in addition to complying with the necessary firearms legislation and undertaking training to gain the skills required to kill animals humanely, the prospective operator should also have a carcase disposal procedure in place before killing an animal. However, it is recognised that this may not be possible in the case of an emergency such as disease outbreak. Also remember that if a large animal, an adult bovine for example, is killed in a confined space such as an indoor pen, the carcase must be removed promptly. If left for too long it will go into rigor mortis and will be difficult to remove.

You should avoiding piling carcasses where possible, as this traps heat and accelerates putrefaction. Carcasses should be sprayed liberally with disinfectant and, when they are moved, the ground beneath should also be sprayed well. Do not load carcases onto the lorries too far in advance of their departure. Bloating may cause the containers to split! To avoid cattle bloating, the abdomen may be cut open, although this may present a biohazard risk if the animal is diseased. If the carcases are not able to leave the site immediately wrap the heads, and in some cases feet, of dead animals in heavy duty plastic bags and secure well with tape. These can be covered with sheeting to prevent the attraction of wildlife which may lead to further disease transmission.

Legislation regarding carcase disposal varies between countries. Operators should take care to ensure that they comply with relevant local and national laws.

Depending on the circumstances, the options for carcase disposal may include:

  1. transport to an abattoir, making sure to comply with any relevant food hygiene legislation;
  2. collection by or delivery to a knacker yard for disposal;
  3. collection by or delivery to a licensed incinerator.

Other options available for carcase disposal on-farm include hunt kennels, burial and incineration. Your options may be subject to national legislation, check with your local authority before proceeding to dispose of any carcases on-farm using these methods. If the animals have been killed by lethal injection the carcases must be identified especially if they are to be picked up by the knacker. Prior to their removal from the farm they must be stored in sealable containers.

Next: Points for consideration after killing/end of the day

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