What is Livestock Composting?
Composting is the microbiological breakdown of livestock or other organic material with the assistance of oxygen, carbon, moisture, and heat into a stable nutrient rich product called compost.
There are a variety of ways to dispose of livestock mortalities; these can include, incinerating, rendering, burying, naturally disposing, or composting. However, of these options composting is the method of livestock disposal that comes with the lowest biosecurity risk. Composting in a well-managed system will prevent transmission and spread of diseases and pathogens, protect air and water quality, and eliminate the issues of bones and weed seeds.
What is the BioMulcher?
The BioMulcher is an accelerated, regulated, and automated composting system for deceased livestock.
- Accelerated: This BioMulcher cuts composting times down dramatically to days as opposed to the traditional composting methods that can take years to fully complete. The BioMulcher accomplishes this through a stirring arm that will stir the carcasses into the ripping carbide teeth that will tear into the hide and bone accelerating breakdown, decomposition, and enhancing microbial interaction. The final stabilized product in 3-7 days is bone free, as the animal is completely disintegrated into fine humus.
- Regulated: The BioMulcher provides an isolated, quarantined environment for safe and environmentally friendly composting. It simulates the natural biological process in the ideal conditions for composting, and the control panel allows you to set what you’d like your conditions to be for a batch i.e. It can be set to the ideal conditions for composting at a stable and steady temperature of 55°C (131°F) for the entirety of a batch. Regulation eliminates fluctuation or irregularities.
- Automated: The BioMulcher allows you to run schedules, prepare for a continuous batch, or an in-out batch. The biggest benefit of automation is that it saves labor; however, it is also used to save energy, materials, and to improve quality, accuracy, and precision.
The BioMulcher Composting Process
So, what’s happening within that BioMulcher cone for those three days on a microbiological level? There are five key factors that interact in order to create compost; Nitrogen and Carbon, oxygen and moisture, and pH.
The Nitrogen comes from the deceased livestock; microorganisms utilize it to create proteins, amino acids, enzymes and DNA necessary for cell growth and function. The Carbon(i.e. Straw, wood chips, sawdust, chopped corn stalks, or shredded paper) that is added to the BioMulcher is required by microorganisms as a food source and energy source to keep them working double time decomposing, 50% of microbes cells are made entirely of Carbon. In addition, the source of Carbon assists in keeping the pore spaces between the compost product open and oxygen available for our aerobic microbes that require it for respiration and metabolism. The moisture utilized in the composting process is inherently present within the carcass, in fact as much as 50-90% of all living organisms are made up of water. Microorganisms like many other organisms require a balance of oxygen and water to survive and thrive. Organic acids accumulate as bacterial microbes and fungi digest the carcasses the pH is influenced, triggering the fungi to actively decompose lignin and cellulose. The composting process can be broken down into three stages; the Pre-Heat Mesophilic stage, the Peak Heat Thermophilic stage, and the Cool Down Maturation stage.
The Three Stages of Composting
- The Pre-Heat Mesophilic Stage: While your livestock waste and carbon material is heating up there is a very important process taking place within the cone of the BioMulcher. Helpful bacteria called Mesophiles will carry out the first stages of decomposition and will multiply and thrive in temperatures of 21-32°C (70-90°F) where they will help to digest and naturally breakdown the livestock carcass. They breakdown any soluble or easily degradable compounds and produce heat as they do so assisting temperature rise in the cone. Once temperatures get beyond the 40°C mark they retire, and the secondary heat loving microbes take over the task.
- Peak Heat Thermophilic Stage: The compost has reached its peak temperatures of between 32-93°C (90-200°F) where beneficial bacterial microbes called Thermophilles will begin to aggressively decompose proteins, fats, and complex carbohydrates like cellulose and
- Cool Down Maturation Stage: When you batch-out your compost, it immediately begins to cool. And over time as temperature decreases Mesophile Microbes return to finish their work along with actinomycetes, fungi, worms and a variety of insects. These microbes and insects will utilize and break down the stabilized product into compost over time.
Compost Product Value and Benefits
- Composted product is known as a nutrient rich source of fertilizer that can used or sold to golf courses, landscapers, gardeners, and producers.
- Compost contains important macronutrient and micronutrient content, and in addition it enhances your soils ability to hold on to nutrients.
- Compost is a great soil amendment as it improves soil’s fertility, organic matter, and aggregate stability while reducing bulk density which can address any issues with soil erosion. Compost can provide this where synthetic fertilizers cannot.
- Cation exchange capacity is increased which means soil will have a better water holding capacity.
- Enhanced soil microbiological community and fungal networks within the soil, and suppression of soil pests.
Below are Livestock Viruses and Bacteria that are inactivated by Composting with the BioMulcher.
|Avian Influenza – Chickens||Avian Influenza akaA H5N1|
|New Castle Disease (NDV)||New Castle Disease (NDV)-Conjunctivitis or Influenza|
|Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv)|
|Aujeszky’s Disease (Pseudorabies)||Aujeszky’s Disease (Pseudorabies)||Aujeszky’s Disease (Pseudorabies)Conjunctivitis or Influenza|
|Salmonella enteritidis||Salmonella enteritidis|
|Salmonella choleraesuis||Salmonella choleraesuis|
|Erysipelas rhusiopathiae||Erysipelas rhusiopathiae||Erysipelas rhusiopathiae (Erysipelas – Streptococcus)|
|Verotoxin-producing Escherichia coli||E. coli|
|Campylobacter||C. jejuni and C. coli|
|Aphthae epizooticae (Hoof-and-Mouth Disease)||Foot and Mouth Disease|
Note that due to the serious nature of all Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TCE)forms, such as Mad Cow Disease aka BSE, CWD, Scrapie, and the implications of these diseases on human health, many provinces and states have stringent guidelines regarding their SRM (Security Risk Management) disposal and will regulate how these livestock will be disposed of including if they can be composted and how that compost may be used. According to research from the American Institute for Goat Research, composting has proven to degrade BSE, CWD, and Scrapie Prions to ≥ 90%, however please seek information regarding disposal of animals infected with any type of TSE from your local government agency before composting.
Written and Published by Jessica Kohls, BSc, PgCE – Dutch Biologist