Poultry production is constantly expanding and as such it is creating increasing amounts of by-products which include manure, mortalities, and hatchery as well as processing wastes. These by-products (animal carcasses) need to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly and prompt way. Animal waste management, meaning the disposal of carcasses, is one of the main problems poultry keepers have, and they recognize that it is a growing challenge.

Animal carcass disposal is a daily problem for poultry meat and egg production facilities as it is a never-ending task since birds die constantly due to congenital defects, diseases, accidents as well as equipment failures and natural disasters. Bird deaths which happen on the farm can result in massive volumes of animal carcasses. Especially catastrophic events such as disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and other unexpected events cause the volumes of animal carcasses to rise.

Because of the loss of animals, the production farms need to deal with enormous volumes of organic matter which needs to be disposed of in an environmentally and biologically safe way.

Obtaining a comprehensive understanding of the available carcass disposal technologies is important in order to be able to make an environmentally and economically sound decision when choosing a carcass disposal method. Poultry keepers should have an understanding of the multiple factors that have to do with each disposal technology as well as principles and logistics of operation, personnel requirements, estimated costs, environmental and disease agent considerations, advantages and disadvantages, and also be aware of lessons learned in the past. Each disposal technology comes with a cost, so the economic resources need to also be taken into consideration.

Animal By-products Disposal in Normal Circumstances

The rise in environmental awareness has led to the close examination of animal carcass disposal methods to make sure the right method is used, and that it is as efficient as possible. There are multiple methods that can be used for animal carcass disposal. These methods include burial, incineration, composting, and rendering.

Burial

Burial is no longer permitted in some states since it may affect the groundwater quality near burial sites as some residue may stay intact for years after the carcasses have been buried.

Incineration

Animal carcass incineration is a biologically safe method of animal waste disposal and it also eliminates the threat of disease. Disposing of the resulting residue does not cause water quality problems. An mobile animal incinerator can also be fitted with after-burning devices which will cause complete gas combustion and lessen odors. In some instances, installing and operating an incinerator requires a permit. There are also certain temperature and air emission requirements for animal by-products incinerators that need to be taken into account.

Composting

Controlled composting is a natural process in which microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi reduce and transform organic wastes into a useful end product called compost. Composting is economically and biologically safe as it inactivates avian and human pathogenic microorganisms as well as bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens completely.

Rendering

Rendering is the conversion of animal carcasses into end products that can be re-used; these include carcass meal (proteinaceous solids),  melted fat or tallow, and water (NABC 2004). The Mobile ISS AGRI Unit – also known as Celitron's Mobile Agri solution – will replace any currently used mobile animal waste incinerator as an economically suitable and environmentally friendly as well as safe way to dispose of hazardous animal carcasses. While regular mobile animal carcass incinerators destroy animal waste, the mobile ISS AGRI Unit creates high-quality dry nutrition products as an end result. By eliminating the animal incineration, mobile ISS AGRI Unit offers a cleaner and safer way to dispose of hazardous animal waste. The unit includes an Integrated Sterilizer & Shredder (ISS) which gives full medical sterilization cycle (SAL 6log10) with steam at low temperature (121 °C) to keep the ABP protein content of the load, securing the quality of the end-product, and while neutralizes bacteria and viruses, it shreds the loaded material into pieces within a pressure vessel. The Mobile ISS AGRI Unit disposal the animal waste creating safe, high quality meat meal, blood meal and bone meal which can be used in the livestock and animal food industry.

As mobile incineration is usually used to avoid transporting animal waste to a rendering plant and thus avoiding spreading possible diseases, the mobile ISS AGRI Unit makes incineration obsolete. The mobile units can be easily installed directly on site at the slaughterhouse production line. The small size, safety and mobility of the unit are efficient and economical, even for small-scale operations, to locally and immediately treat all animal waste—including poultry, fish, porcine, red meat, bone and feathers. The unit has a medical sterilization level SAL 6log10 against animal diseases. The mobile ISS AGRI Unit provides immediate, on-farm carcass disposal against poultry disease, cow disease, and pig disease as well as swine diseases. The swine diseases include swine fever, bird flu, Avian influenza, Newcastle disease, Bovine Tuberculosis, Mad Cow Disease and the porcine virus. Celitron's Mobile Agri solution is the best disposal method for poultry carcass disposal that is currently available.

Animal By-products Disposal in Catastrophic Circumstances

Catastrophic circumstances include a mechanical failure in the facilities, a disease outbreak or a natural disaster such as for example floods or hurricanes. The event causes a catastrophic loss which indicates that the mortality rate of the animals exceeds the normal losses that the farm is able to cope with in a 24 hour period. Farmers need to be prepared for such events so that the situation can be contained and taken care of in a safe and timely manner in order to avoid any further risks. Early detection and warning systems need to be put in place as well as contingency plans, and a plan for action during the catastrophic events.

The preparation for catastrophic events should include a comprehensive plan for mass disposal of birds including all available disposal options and needed procedures as well as a list of the materials, equipment, and personnel that will be needed to handle the situation. The chosen disposal options need to be decided beforehand and they need to be accepted by the local and state officials in addition to being economical, biosecure as well as environmentally and socially accepted.

At the moment massive amounts of animal waste can be disposed of using the following methods: burial, landfills, incineration, composting, and rendering. These methods differ from daily animal waste disposal which happens on-farm, as these practices deal with enormous volumes of animal carcasses that need to be disposed of right away.

Burial

Animal waste disposal by burial is prohibited in the European Union, but elsewhere it is an accepted disposal method when massive losses occur and need to be dealt with quickly.

Incineration

Large-scale mobile waste incinerator units can be used to process massive volumes of animal carcasses in a biologically safe way. However, the costs of operation, turnaround time, and ash disposal may cause challenges.

Composting

Composting is a valid option for animal waste disposal including chicken waste disposal during a catastrophic event. Composting is a biosecure way to deal with disease outbreaks such as avian influenza because the composting process creates enough heat to inactivate the virus found in the carcasses and litter (Lu et al. 2003).

Rendering

Rendering may not be a viable option for the disposal of the carcasses of infected birds as the disease may spread to other farms and contaminate the rendering plant. However, during this kind of situations the rendering industry is able to deal with hazardous waste safely and responsively, including the disposal of carcasses that are not considered to be suitable for rendering into re-usable products.

Landfill

Using a landfill to dispose of animal waste may cause a biosecurity risk, being potentially hazardous for animal, poultry, and human health. When managed properly during a disease outbreak, landfilling is a suitable and efficient option for disposal of diseased carcasses. Each landfill has its own processes it operates by and therefore it is advised to seek the approval of the landfill owner before considering landfill as an option.

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