Devastating storms such as the May 20 tornado that struck Moore highlight the need to act quickly to dispose of livestock and other large animal carcasses at a time when necessary equipment may be tied up with high-priority search-and-rescue or recovery efforts for people.

“When burial, incineration or rendering are not available options, composting animal mortalities can be an inexpensive, biologically secure and environmentally sound approach to addressing the issue of carcass disposal,” said Josh Payne, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension animal waste management specialist headquartered in Muskogee.

Composting is a controlled biological decomposition process that converts organic matter into a stable, humus-like product. The carcass, which is a nitrogen source, is covered with a bulking carbon-source agent such as wood shavings, thereby promoting the proper carbon-to-nitrogen ratio required by microorganisms to successfully decompose the carcass while absorbing excess moisture and filtering odor.