Carcass and Animal Mortality Management

Supporting Agriculture is an important goal of the Maine Compost Team. Dealing with animal mortality management from routine to catastrophic is a subject area where the Team has been very active, starting with early research in 2001 based upon using composting to treat animals infected with the highly contagious Foot and Mouth Disease. This study helped us to develop concise, biosecure practices for proper mortality management.

In 2004, in response to the threat of “Mad Cow” disease, the Team stepped-in once again and conducted numerous mortality trials using various combinations of feedstocks to determine the optimal recipe. Out of this study came two ideal mortality management feedstock choices that have become standards for mortality management in Maine-Sewage Sludge Compost and Horse Manure.

In 2006, Avian influenza loomed a threat to Maine’s poultry industry and the team conducted trials using sewage sludge compost to treat potentially infected birds, successfully composting them in less than four weeks. Since then, the team has focused on evaluating the effects of mortality compost piles, from nutrient movement to leachate losses.

In 2015, Team members became USDA Subject Matter Experts in Composting in response to a huge nationwide outbreak of High Path Avian Influenza; working all over the country composting poultry mortalities. In 2016, The team helped develop the USDA Mortality Composting Protocol for Avian Influenza Infected Flocks. A year later the Team helped develop the protocols for emergency composting of livestock.

In all, the Team has been involved in numerous HPAI outbreaks and other poultry disasters since 2016, 2018, 2020 and currently ongoing events since then.

In 2017, Mark was invited by the US Virgin Island Government to help manage over 2,000,000 cubic yards of storm debris resulting from two back-to-back category five hurricanes that ravaged the island community.

In 2018, Mark King led a team to address over 1,000 seal mortalities that died during an Unusual Mortality Event caused by Phocine Distemper. The project resulted in many coastal communities choosing to co-compost the mortalities with their leaf and yard debris compost.

Since 2020, the Team has been working on managing mortalities and other materials contaminated with Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS or PFASs ). Several research projects are currently ongoing.

The Team stands ever ready to serve as needed.