Pig carcasses can be safely and economically composted on farms to produce valuable organic fertilizer, according to a new study by researchers from Ireland’s Agricultural and Food Development Authority (Teagasc).
On-farm composting can also play a critical role in decreasing biosecurity risks and disease spread associated with collection trucks and by reducing storage time of dead animals before disposal, the researchers concluded.
The cost of dead pig disposal in the EU has now reached €200-300/ton, a significant cost for pork producers. Composting of dead pigs is currently not permitted in the EU, but it is the preferred disposal method in the US and Canada, according to the Teagasc report.
Composting is an aerobic process that uses microorganisms to breakdown and decompose organic materials, producing a valuable soil amendment. At an optimum temperature of 55°C, the composting process kills of all of the erysipelas and the majority of the salmonella in the compost pile.
“Research has shown no evidence that the product of composing pig carcasses poses any great public threat than general food waste,” said Amy Quinn, pig development officer with Teagasc.
An 18-month payback is estimated on the initial cost of building an on-farm composting facility. A bin system similar to a silage-pit structure that is water- and rodent-proof provides an adequate composting facility, the report states.