Mortality management featured at 2011 Ag Expo

If you are in the livestock business, chances are at some time you will have dead stock. Learn the acceptable methods for mortality management at this year’s Ag Expo.

To help producers successfully deal with this side of the livestock business, MSU Extension will be offering information and demonstrations on mortality management at the 2011 Ag Expo. Acceptable methods for mortality management are defined within Michigan’s Bodies of Dead Animals Act (BODA); Act 239 of 1982, as amended.

The law describes six alternative ways to handled mortalities. Traditionally, we looked at how we could dispose of the carcasses, such as burial, rendering, and incineration. While these traditional methods get rid of the mortality in an acceptable manner, they do not allow for the nutrients to be recycled. Alternatives such as composting and anaerobic digestion allow the nutrients to be utilized in the farming system.

Visitors to Ag Expo will have opportunities to learn about all methods through presentations, posters and demonstrations. Highlights of the event will include demonstrations every morning beginning at 11:00 AM, where visitors will go to the MSU composting site and see active open pile composting of sheep (Tuesday, July 19), beef (Wednesday, July 20) and horse (Thursday, July 21) mortalities. Afternoon demonstrations offer a first- hand look at carcass reduction equipment, vertical mixers and in-vessel systems. See the expo schedule for times and days. To participate in the tour, arrive at the Michigan Ag Expo grounds 30 minutes prior to the tour and meet at the mortality management tent just inside the east gate to board transportation.

Anaerobic digestion, new to the BODA Act in 2008, provides another method for mortality management. However, farmers will not be able to use this practice until state of Michigan rules are in place. On Wednesday afternoon, Kevin Kirk from Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will join MSU researchers to discuss the new anaerobic digestion rules and best management practices for this system.

There is more than one way to manage dead animals. The information provided during Ag Expo will help producers determine the method that best fits their operation.

MSU's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources sponsors Ag Expo. It runs from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, July 19-20, and 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, July 21. Admission to the grounds and parking at Farm Lane and Mt. Hope roads are free.

To learn more about the educational sessions being offered at Ag Expo this year, visit the Ag Expo website at For more information on mortality management, contact Dale Rozeboom at 517-355-8398.

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