Managing On-Farm Mortalities

Disposal of dead livestock must be in accordance with The Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management Regulation under The Environment Act. This regulation specifies that mortalities must be kept in a secure and frozen (or refrigerated) state if not disposed of within 48 hours of the time of death. Disposal is specified to be by burial, composting or incineration. Rendering is no longer an option with sheep.


Burial is a suitable practice for summer. Dead animals can be placed in a trench, which is then backfilled each time a carcass is added. Depending upon soil conditions, however, decomposition can be very slow, with carcasses remaining intact for five years or more. Caution is therefore required for burial of dead animals. The burial site should be at least 100 m (328 ft) from a watercourse, sinkhole, springs or from any source of water used for domestic purposes. Areas with a high groundwater level or shallow aquifers must be avoided. Carcasses must be covered with a minimum of one meter (3 ft) of soil.

During the winter it is advisable to put carcasses in a holding area such as a covered trailer where they can remain frozen until burial is possible in the spring. The carcasses should be protected from scavengers. If left unprotected, scavengers will drag the carcasses around, creating both a nuisance and a possible health hazard.

While at one time carcasses could be brought to sanitary landfills, this is no longer possible in many areas. Some municipalities which bury their refuse on a daily basis may allow animals to be deposited in landfill sites. Check with your local municipal office to determine if this is allowed in your area.


Composting is becoming an increasingly popular method of disposing of dead animals in the more moderate climates in the USA. This method is used at a small scale in Manitoba.

Operations utilizing composting of mortalities must be designed and managed in such a way that they do not cause pollution. Composting sites should be located at least 100 m (328 ft) from a watercourse, sinkhole, springs or any source of water used for domestic purposes.

Location of a composter should take the farm residence and any neighbouring residences into account. While offensive odours are not usually generated in the composting process, the handling of dead livestock and compost on a daily basis may not be aesthetically pleasing. When locating a composter, consideration should be given to traffic patterns required in moving dead animals to the composter, moving required ingredients to the composter, and removing finished compost from the composter. The composter site should be well-drained and provide all-weather capability for access roads and work areas.


Incineration is an acceptable method of disposal if performed properly. For the dead animals to be burnt without creating an odour problem, the temperature of the incinerator must be sufficiently high. Incineration requires a large amount of energy to completely cremate a carcass.

The installation and operation of the incinerator must be in compliance with Manitoba's Incinerators Regulation MR 91/88, a regulation under The Environment Act.