The management of animal mortalities is an important aspect of livestock production. Even the best producers lose some of their animals each year. Traditional disposal methods are becoming less practical due to availability, high costs and biosecurity concerns. Because composting is low cost, environmentally sound, biosecure and virtually odor free, it is becoming a more widely used method of mortality disposal.
Minnesota Board of Animal Health regulations allow composting of poultry, swine, sheep and goats without a permit. Cattle can be composted after obtaining a permit.

Successful composting, like all aspects of a livestock production operation, requires a management commitment. To assist producers who are interested in animal mortality composting, National Pork Board, the Minnesota Pork Board and the University of Minnesota will host two workshops in June.

The June 16, workshop will be at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca. The June 23 event will be at the Valley Inn in Eden Valley. Both workshops begin at 11:30 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. They will include tours of working sites– Waseca tour participants will view a swine mortality composting site and the Eden Valley tour will feature a turkey venue.

The workshops are free but pre-registration is strongly encouraged to assure availability of materials, lunch, beverages and seating. To pre-register, call the Minnesota Pork Board at (800) 537-7675 or e-mail With your e-mail pre-registration, you must include name of attendees, telephone number, address and which site you plan to attend.

Pre-registration deadline for the Waseca workshop is June 14, and pre-registration for the Eden Valley workshop is due June 21.

A specific agenda and topics for the workshops are as follows:
11:30 a.m., registration and Noon lunch;
12:30 p.m., Minnesota Board of Animal Health presentation on disposal options, disposal costs, and how various disposal options kill pathogens;
1 p.m., description of mortality composting systems, composting science and producer testimonials;
2 p.m., system design, sizing, construction, and economics;
3 p.m., site management, temperatures, moisture control, recording keeping, composted product disposal, and site tour.