Sustainable Livestock Mortality Management

2011 Annual Report for ENE08-108

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2008: $169,425.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
Mark Hutchinson
University of Maine Extension

Sustainable Livestock Mortality Management


The Northeast Carcass Management (NCM) Team comprised of Mark Hutchinson, Craig Williams, Jean Bonhotal, and members of the “NESARE 55” (the group of Ag Service Providers from Cooperative Extension, NRCS, State Agriculture agencies and private consulting who were trained through this project) continued to provide regional and local training for agricultural service providers and producers for all thirteen NESARE states in 2011.

The NCM team conducted an electronic and paper survey of 625 agriculture service providers and producers in 2011 to access the implementation of compost as a management tool. Fifteen agriculture service providers and 79 farmers completed the survey. The survey had a 15% return rate from 7 of the 13 NESARE states and several states outside the region. The survey results indicated that 46 (58%) of livestock producers currently use composting as a management tool. Of those 33 farmers not composting, 65% indicated that more information was needed for them to implement a program. Agriculture Service Providers respondents recommend compost as a management tool 94% of the time. The rate of recommendation was 100% if they had attended a composting training program.

This program continues to have a positive effect on sustainable carcass management methodology, implementation and policy in the Northeast. We have learned in the past that implementation of new management techniques is often very slow.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Three years after training 60 Agriculture Service Providers across the Northeast SARE region in sustainable carcass management through composting, 500 farmers will adopt composting as carcass management practices. Project duration 4 years.


Milestone 1.
From the core group of 60, 30 will provide feedback on Carcass Management Tools website design. 15 months (2008-2009).

The Northeast Carcass Management Team opted to use webinars and survey monkey to assess educational material and program success instead of a website. In 2011, a website for an international symposium was established. This website contains educational material on carcass and animal tissue management, policy and response. This website includes all of the information and is accessible to all NESARE participants and producers. The NCM team felt there was no reason to duplicate with an additional website.

The NCM team conducted a phone survey with the “NESARE 55” group. One of the questions was to assess who was still actively involved in carcass management education. We found that seven of the participants had actually changed jobs and additional fourteen were no longer involved in carcass management issues for a variety of reasons. However, twenty three of the participants have become regional contacts for sustainable carcass management.

One of our goals was to use technology to disseminate information. Even though the webinars were well attended, less than 33% of the “NESARE 55” attended the webinars. They preferred to get information through hands-on workshops or written material. The NCM team is not willing to completely drop technology from their programming plan. Educating the clients on the use of the technology is necessary to increase participation.

Milestone 2.
The core group will form 20 teams which will host 50 educational programs for producers and agricultural service providers, transfer information through agricultural events and write articles for agriculture publications. Of the 20 teams, 12 will use video teleconferencing as part of their training. Years 2-3 of program (2009-2010).

Members of the NCM team in conjunction with members of the “NESARE 55” held 18 Sustainable Carcass Management training programs during 2010. These programs provided research based information to over 2250 participants. Participants for these programs were Agriculture Service Providers, producers and policy makers. The total number of training programs presented by service providers during 2009-2010 was 51, which exceeded our milestone of 50. However, none of the programs involved videoconferencing.

Additionally, over 2000 people received mailed information about sustainable carcass management for routine and catastrophic events.

Only three of the fifteen teams formed during the initial training worked together to provide regional training programs, hence the majority of the training programs offered were presented by individual service providers working in their local area. Geographic distance, time and change of program emphasis were all cited as reasons for not working in the teams. A stronger emphasis on team formation before attending the initial training may help to strengthen this area.

Milestone 3.
Core group (60) will participate in two video teleconferences to share successes and evaluate program progress. Year 3 (2010): This milestone was completed and reported in 2009.

Milestone 4.
Conduct a program evaluation to trained trainers through an electronic survey and telephone follow up.

This milestone was partially completed in 2011. Using Survey Monkey all Ag service providers were surveyed about compost as a management tool. The survey showed that 94% of Ag Service Providers recommend composting as a best management practice. The number increase to 100% if the Ag Service Provider has attended a training provided by Cooperative Extension.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

An electronic (Survey Monkey) and paper survey of 55 Agriculture Service Providers and 570 farmers was conducted during the summer of 2011. Ninety four surveys were returned. Pennsylvania and Maine had the highest rate of return. Livestock operators represented 84% (79) of the completed surveys. Most livestock operator respondents had between 50 and 500 animals. There were three surveys returned from farms with over 1000 animals. 25% of livestock operator respondents reported attending a carcass compost management workshop in the past four years. Carcass composting is used by 46 (58%) of the livestock producers completing the survey. Half of the producers have been composting for less than 5 years. Producers indicated that carcass composting is less expensive then rendering and burial and is better environmentally. Carcass composting has had a positive economic impact on 76% of the farms reporting.

Of those 33 farms not using composting, 53% are burying 25% are dragging to the woods. Lack of compost knowledge was indicated by 65% as for the reason for not using compost as a best management practice.

Even though we have meet our stated objectives of having 500 farms adapt composting as a best management practice, there are still a large number of farms that want or need more educational training.


Craig Williams

[email protected]
Extension Educator
Penn St Extension
118 Main St
Wellsboro, PA 16901
Office Phone: 5707249120
Jean Bonhotal

[email protected]
Senior Extension Associate
Cornell Waste Management
101b Rice Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
Office Phone: 6072558444