Dealing with fallen stock disposal is a reality for any livestock owner and understanding the regulations surrounding the process is likely the biggest challenge. In light of recent Food and Drug Administration regulations, researchers at the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Agriculture are defining a more natural way of disposing of dead animals to control the spread of pathogens and disease outbreaks.

"The FDA came out with a final rule that said rendering plants that accepted cattle over 30 months of age, which is any breeding animal, would have to have the sensitive tissue removed, which is basically the brain and the spinal cord," said Steve Higgins, researcher for the UK Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. "Basically it goes back to the issue of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalitis). They don't want to risk these constituents of BSE infecting the food stream."

Mr Higgins emphasised that there currently are no cases of BSE in the United States and that the new rules will allow US beef to get back into markets that have been unavailable for some time.

The 30-month rule creates a lot of record keeping for rendering companies and many companies who were picking up carcases, no longer have a market for them, Mr Higgins said.

"So, rendering as a means of disposal, basically went out the window," he said. "Burial is an option, but it's very expensive. So we had to find an alternative and now we are demonstrating composting as a viable alternative. It's unbelievably cheap to do it."

Mr Higgins' method for composting dead farm animals safely breaks down the carcase while keeping pollutants out of the ground water. It's an odorless process that won't attract scavengers and also provides an end product that farmers could use as a soil amendment.

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