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How do folks generally dispose of the carcass of a sheep that has died, particularly during periods when the ground is frozen? I'm not in the position of needing to do this but want to be prepared for the inevitable. (I've already contacted our extension agent, who said that there aren't all that many options.)

 

Thanks

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Leave them out somewhere for the birds to eat. We don't have coyotes, or other large predators, so there's no worry about attracting them.

 

If the sheep was healthy, and died because of a known cause (ie, old age) and is very recently dead, I'll butcher them out for the dogs.

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I think some landfills have a place for livestock. I know a large animal vet friend in N FL that sometimes meets the horse & owners at the landfill for euthanasia :blink: Perhaps you can contact the nearest one to see what their policy is.

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I think there was a thread a loooooong time ago about composting sheep. You bury them in an active compost pile, cover well with compost and then straw to keep the heat in. In a few months, if I remember correctly, all that's left is bones and wool.

 

Debbie, do you have an estimate of how long it takes for a sheep to be fully composted?

 

Ruth

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For those of you that compost livestock - do you have issues with critters getting into your compost pile? We've got loads of coyotes around here and I'd be worried that the decaying animal would draw them in.

 

We've never had an issue with coyotes (plenty of space for them in woods and orchards) so I'd hate to "advertise" the fact that they might be able to find an easy meal if they came up close enough to the barns/animals/etc.

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The only problem we have critter wise is our own cats and dogs. It is in the corner of a small pasture that is fenced off, pretty much keeps the dogs out of it so long as I don't forget to close a gate.

 

@Ruth, no idea how long it takes, we just keep adding to the pile, Wayne burns it down every now and then, there are calves, a horse, sheep, ducks and a chicken or two in there somewhere. I think I heard it beltch once....

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We compost all the guts, etc when we butcher. We have several active compost heap. The key to composting guts is to add lots of hay or straw. Helps balance the carbon/nitrogen ratio to keep the smell down. If you bury it well, it composts enough to be unappetizing to critters in a matter of days.

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As far as composting dead sheep and other bio residue, there are some good publications out there from some of the state extension services. You could google the topic. A fence made of hog panels or something can help keep larger critters out.

 

Putting carcasses out in the woods for coyotes to eat can have the effect of chumming in the coyotes. They get used to eating sheep, which isn't always a good thing.

 

mn

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Putting carcasses out in the woods for coyotes to eat can have the effect of chumming in the coyotes. They get used to eating sheep, which isn't always a good thing.

 

mn

 

Fair point. I should say that I was stating what I do, not reccomending for others. In my case, the coyotes are here, and the birth of new calves is much more of a chumming effect than putting carcasses in the woods. I know it is different in other areas, but our coyotes are not brave or bold. I can go into the pasture almost any night and see coyotes wandering around the cows and calves, within 30 feet, but they don't dare challenge a momma cow. In ten years, I haven't had a calf harmed by a coyote (other than ones I put in the woods). I only keep a dozen sheep, and I have never seen a sign of a coyote trying to cross the hot electronet. If I ever have a coyote problem, I'll be sure to change my disposal method.

 

Composting sounds like a great way to go.

 

Glenn

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My local landfill will accept animal carcasses, but I just heard from a friend who tried the sawdust compost method. She does not have an active compost heap, so her husband picked up (for free) about a half a pick-up load of sawdust. Put down some sawdust on the ground, lay the carcass on top, then cover with the remaining sawdust. The carcass was about 160-180 lbs. It was almost completely gone when she poked around in the pile about 4 weeks later (summer temperatures). She did not see any evidence of critters digging around in the pile, but I don't think they have a heavy concentration of coyotes and such (although there are some).

 

I think I may try this.

 

Jovi

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Thanks everyone. I've also been wondering about the composting method. In Michigan, the official rules for composting livestock require a concrete floor. Is that true many places and just not as often followed? I would love to be able to have composting be an option. The person we bought the place from told me that he'd put livstock out in the woods for the scavenger species, but I do worry about chumming the coyotes--I haven't seen any (or any evidence) around, but I suspect they are here somewhere.

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Here is the earlier thread that Ruth referred to.

 

I use the compost method. I can't tell you exactly how long it takes, but I've always been surprised by how quickly everything is gone but big bones and some wool. I throw a couple of wheelbarrow loads of horse stall sweepings on the pile at the same time. The only barriers I've ever used are a few pallets, and I've never had the pile disturbed by animals, but we are fortunate not to have any predators/scavengers bigger than fox and vultures in our immediate area.

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Three cheers for the land of freedom!

 

When one of my sheep died I had to:

1. Notify Agricultural Agency in writing.

2. Notify the District Vet in writing and get a paper form him requesting a disposal and a lab test by a disposal and lab company.

3. The company specializing in Hazardous material disposal had to come and collect the carcass verrrry carefullly.

4. And then send a sample to the lab that was supposed to test for...rabies.

 

All the paperwork I have to keep for five years.

 

Moving to Europe anyone? :lol: :lol: :lol:

 

Maja

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Below are comprehensive instructions for availing yourself of a dump that does not take livestock carcasses.

 

I have used three methods. 1) Call first and explain you have a dead sheep and don't know what to do with it. That sometimes gets an "Oh, come on. Just don't say anything." response. 2) For the stealth approach, be overdressed for garbage disposal and look helpless. Someone will unload for you. If a head or ear sticks out and the guy one pick-up over who is slinging your trash says, "What's that? A big dog?" you muffle a sob and say "Poor Rover." 3) With especially large sheep, roll them in a big tarp or stuff them into one of those oversized gray garbage cans from Sam's Club or Costco and jettison the whole thing. Be sure to get the sheep in the can before rigor mortis sets in.

 

If the corpse has filled up with gas, a hatchback or SUV, while appropriate for lending versimilitude, is not ideal because the initial impact of loading the body is likely to be malodorous and, if you're going to the dump on your way to work or lunch in town, likely to leave you and your upholstery perfumed enough to attract a feral cat population. Besides if you've gotten to the point that you're worried about what to do if, then you also need a pick-up.

 

Do not under any circumstances listen to someone who suggests you start a bone yard or toss the carcass over the fence into the woods. If you have been fortunate enough to live in a pocket where the local coyotes do not yet know sheep are good to eat, that will change.

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Do not under any circumstances listen to someone who suggests you start a bone yard or toss the carcass over the fence into the woods. If you have been fortunate enough to live in a pocket where the local coyotes do not yet know sheep are good to eat, that will change.

We have a bone yard already, our LGD has been bringing deer parts (quarters of road killed deer) back the barn yard. We don't need to help him add to his collection by tossing carcasses over the fence.

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Penny,

You had me laughing out loud! ;)

 

Our landfill takes livestock and other animals. When I had a ewe die, I got a neighbor to help me get her on a tarp and then get her on the trailer and I took her to the landfill. When I got to the landfill, I weighed in and was directed to the appropriate spot where someone was to meet me for the unloading. This great big guy and his young helper walk up and look at the sheep on the tarp, and the big guy says to me, "Did you bring a way to get it off?" That sound he heard was my jaw hitting the ground. I looked at him and his helper and said, very sweetly, "Well, my girlfriend and I loaded her on to the trailer, so I think maybe it shouldn't be a problem for you and your helper to get her off?" Seriously, what did he expect? Some sort of pulley systek to hoist the sheep off the trailer. How *did* he think we got her on? Levitation?

 

At the old place, my housemate would bury carcasses (only lambs) using the tractor, but invariably something (perhaps the neighbor's dogs) would go back to that area and dig them up, so it seemed pointless to bother with burying. Like Glenn, this is an area without a lot of predator pressure and these were small bodies.

 

The only full-size sheep I've lost is the one described above, and I opted to haul her to the dump....

 

J.

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I recently lost 3 sheep in a dog attack. Animal control was present and I was strongly advised to bury them deep, off my property if possible and cover with lime because the smell of decaying animals would "attack every coyote within 10 miles of here". So that is what we did. They were buried on a farm 15+ miles from here where there are no other sheep.

 

I know we had a large cat population when I first moved here, 2 of the cats died and I buried them very deeply and covered with a medium sized rock (medium sized in relation to the rocks we have here underground that are the size of my house). Within 2 days the rock was moved, hole was dug up, and the carcass was gone...

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Another solution, dig your holes now. Get a backhoe to dig three 2 foot by 6 foot holes 5 or 6 foot deep. Cover each hole with a sheet of plywood, and the holes will be there if you need them. If the dirt pile isn't frozen solid, push it in over the carcass. If the dirt is solid, fill the hole with manure and bedding and recover with plywood. For lambs, dig a series of post holes now and cover with plywood. Drop the lamb in and cover.

 

Glenn

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