Animal disposal after a natural disaster

The correct management of deceased livestock after a natural disaster is important in order to minimise the impact on the environment and reduce the risks to human and animal health through the spread of disease.

NSW DPI and Local Land Services work together to manage the effects of emergencies on agriculture, livestock and our community as Agriculture and Animal Services Functional Area (AASFA). Following a natural disaster, such as floods or bushfires, AASFA assists with animal assessments, stock euthanasia and disposal.

How to dispose livestock carcasses

Disposal options are numerous and choices will be impacted by factors such as carcass/material type, quantity, condition, location, disease/pest, health and safety, community, environment, resources, cost, and time.

Onsite burial

Onsite burial is the preferred option in most instances. Burial is often an effective method of carcass disposal if pits are constructed, located and managed correctly. More information on this method can be found in the AUSVETPLAN Operational Manual for disposal procedures or via the NSW Department of Primary Industries resources on animal carcass disposal.

Licensed landfills

Where there are large mortalities or where onsite issues (e.g. size, soil type, water table etc.) are problematic, disposal through a licensed landfill is usually the preferred option. You can contact AASFA for assistance to transport carcasses to a licensed landfill by calling the Agriculture and Animal Services hotline on 1800 814 647.

Mortality composting

On-farm mortality composting is a natural process whereby beneficial microorganisms decompose and transform carcasses into a useful end product that is safe for the environment.

Composting must be managed correctly to achieve adequate carcass disposal and can be a time-consuming practice. Our guide to composting flood spoilage has more information on this method of carcass disposal.

What happens if I dispose carcasses incorrectly?

Improper carcass disposal can have significant impacts on environmental, human and animal health. Poor carcass disposal can result in contamination of soil, ground water and water ways. Access to poorly disposed carcasses can also allow for significant disease spread through scavengers, mosquitoes and vermin.

Animal owners and managers have a legal responsibility to ensure that disposal of carcasses does not adversely affect the environment. The NSW EPA has guidelines to minimise environmental contamination and should also be consulted for advice when considering options for disposal.

When should I dispose carcasses?

Carcass disposal should occur as soon as possible after the animal has died. Careful planning and management of disposal is important to ensure the safety of the community, other stock, the environment and to minimise the risk of disease spread.

Assistance with carcass disposal

You can register for assistance with the Agriculture and Animal Services hotline on 1800 814 647 if you need assistance with carcass disposal.

AASFA can assist with the removal and disposal of livestock from public and private land. These can then be disposed of at local waste management facilities, etc.

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