Emergency Livestock Mortality Management

General Guidance and Tools for Producers During COVID-19

Depopulation Guidance

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has defined depopulation as the rapid and efficient destruction of a complete population of animals in response to urgent circumstances with as much consideration given to the welfare of the animals as practicable.  

Resources for Veterinarians & Producers:

The AVMA Guidelines for the Depopulation of Animals should be referred to in circumstances necessitating prophylactic culling or depopulation. 

The American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) also has a new Recommendations for the Depopulation of Swine,  which includes fact sheets of guidance for veterinarians and producers about available swine depopulation methods, limitations, and plan development for emergency situations. 

Disposal Guidance

The responsibility of owning animals does not end when an animal dies. In Illinois, state law requires an animal owner to dispose properly of a carcass within 24 hours of learning of an animal's death.

The list of approved disposal methods is found within the Dead Animal Disposal Act (DADA) and regulations, and is administered by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA).  The Illinois The DADA has approved four methods for disposal of carcasses by owners: rendering, burial, landfill, composting.  Each method has accompanying specific requirements which are listed within the Dead Animal Disposal Act Rules.  Below are the links to the DADA rules.

Dead Animal Disposal Act Rules

Dead Animal Disposal Act On-The-Farm Disposal Rule

1.  Rendering

A common option is removing carcasses to an approved disposal plant. Rendering can be a convenient, clean and waste-free solution that ultimately recycles the remains into other products. The renderer generally provides on-farm pick-up for a fee. Each company determines which species they will accept and geographic locations they will serve.

Illinois Licensed Rendering Facilities

2.   Burial

Burial is another authorized means of disposal.  By law the burial must be on the premises owned and operated by the owner of the dead animal.  Producers must ensure appropriate burial depth as well as distance from streams, potable water supplies and residences and all other rules found  in the Illinois Dead Animal Disposal Act Section 90.110, On-The-Farm Disposal.  A city or town may have additional ordinances to regulate or prohibit burial within the city or town limits. Local authorities should be consulted to learn about local ordinances.  Producers are encouraged to check NRCS's Web Soil Survey (WSS) in advance to learn if their farm land is suitable for burial.

3.   Landfill

Landfill disposal qualifies as burial under IDOA rules. Each landfill operator decides what material it will accept.  Care must be taken to ensure proper transport to the site. 

4.  Composting

On-farm composting is an option for livestock owners.  Dry organic material also known as a carbon source, like sawdust, woodchips, ground cornstalks or straw layered with animal remains to generate heat to speed decomposition. Carcasses are completely composted when no visible pieces of soft tissue remain. Large bones, such as a full-size skull or femur from adult livestock, should be removed and/or crushed prior to land application.  The Illinois Dead Animal Disposal Act Section 90.110, On-The-Farm Disposal provides detailed rules for the composting of different species. 

General Guidance and Tools

Further guidance for livestock disposal from the USDA and other agencies can be found at the following websites to assist in deciding what method of disposal will work best for your farm.

USDA Disposal Resources

USDA Carcass Management Dashboard

USDA Livestock Mortality Composting

USDA Poultry/HPAI Mortality Composting


Other Agencies Disposal Resources

Emergency Animal Mortality Management (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services – NRCS)

EPA I-Waste – site to look-up landfills and renderers in IL (must create an account)


Specific Contact Information for Disposal Technical Assistance in Illinois

Neslihan Akdeniz, Clinical Assistant Professor

University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Email: neslihan@illinois.edu

Phone: (217) 300-2644


Ted Funk, PhD, PE

Agricultural Engineer

Email: funkt7@gmail.com

Phone: (217) 369-7716