Dead Stock Disposal
2 min read
Dead stock management is the process of dealing with farm animal fatalities. It is important to appropriately dispose of carcasses to avoid spreading diseases, contaminating water, and harming the dairy industry's public image. Contact local authorities or use collection services if you have too many dead animals or can't dispose of them on your farm. Various disposal options are listed, including collection services, burial, offal holes, composting, and burning. Always remember, improper disposal can pose serious risks, so you should follow the listed do's and don'ts.
Even the best animal husbandry will not prevent the odd animal death. Care needs to be taken to avoid odour and seepage when burying dead stock and other refuse in pits. Proper disposal of dead stock is important to protect human health and the environment.
Using a collection service is the most common and easiest method for responsible stock disposal. Alternatively, correctly constructed offal pits or compost bins.
Some companies will charge a collection fee for the animal, others will pay for certain stock for example, dead calves (with specifications).
A number of licensed commercial operators provide a collection service for dead stock.
The collection service needs to be notified as soon as possible so the animal can be collected on the next available pick up. Animal hides also need to be in good condition.
Offal pits should be well away from waterways, wetlands, bores, property boundaries and the farm dairy. They should also be shallow enough that groundwater will not enter.
Surface water should be directed away from the pit using cuttings or nibs. Good practice is to seal the pit with a concrete slab or an airtight cover-plate - which is also important for health and safety. Organic matter produced on the farm should be the only material in the pit.
There are strict rules around the placement and construction of offal pits. They should be more than 46m from the farm dairy. For more information contact your regional council.
Collection services are the preferred option. But if there is no collection service available, there are other disposal options to consider.
Under Auckland Council rules offal holes, shallow trenches and composting are permitted provided:
You can check regional rules (5.5.34 and 5.5.35) here.
Digging offal holes is a permitted activity under the Waikato Regional Plan, provided:
You can check regional rules (rule 22.214.171.124) here.
Digging offal holes is a permitted activity under Bay of Plenty Regional Council Regional Water and Land Plan rule 26 provided:
Hawkes Bay farmers
If there are too many dead animals for you to deal with, or conditions don't allow for on-farm disposal, contact Hawkes Bay Regional Council on 06 835 9200 or 0800 108 838. The council will coordinate collection and appropriate disposal.
Environment Canterbury rules in addition to these requirements for pits are:
Your local district council may also have specific rules, particularly about odour. So please check with them about your plans.
Otago Regional Council has the following requirements for pits, in addition to those above:
Your local district council may also have specific rules, particularly about odour. So please check with them about your plans*.*
Putting a carcass or offal into or onto land is a permitted activity provided:
Environment Southland recommend using a Shallow Trench, keeping the carcass decomposition in the top soil layer to avoid groundwater contamination. More information about good management of offal holes is available here.
If you cannot meet these permitted activity criteria then you will need to talk to Environment Southland about a resource consent.
For specific rules in your region, refer to the Federated Farmers website.
Composting is an effective way to dispose of dead stock while creating a useful product and minimising the potential for groundwater contamination. If managed well, composting can be low cost and relatively odour free.
Composting involves micro-organisms breaking down carcasses to form humus that can be spread over non-productive areas such as domestic gardens and shelter belts.
The process requires using a material high in carbon, for example sawdust or straw, as a bulking agent. This is layered with the dead animal in bins. Sawdust from calf sheds or chip from feed pads can be used as a bulking agent. The process may take up to six months depending on the size of the animal.