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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Exotic & Emerging Avian Viral Diseases Research » Research » Research Project #431392

Research Project: Enhanced Practices for Mass Mortality Composting

Location: Exotic & Emerging Avian Viral Diseases Research

Project Number: 6040-32000-066-28-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 15, 2016
End Date: Aug 30, 2020

To investigate alternative technologies or modifications to existing technologies for the rapid disposal of mass poultry mortalities utilizing composting practices.

Windrow composting is the current preferred method for disposal for mass poultry mortality or depopulations by state and federal authorities. This method of disposal minimizes the off-farm impacts and interactions during a disease outbreak. However, little research information is available on the effective temperature profile, viral inactivation, and managerial aspects of mass poultry mortality compost following a depopulation event. The formation of composting windrows is labor and material intensive and the process can be plagued with inconsistencies of implementation due to the lack of a common standard operating procedure for mass mortality windrowing. Best available technologies and equipment may not provide the optimal formulation and formation of mortality windrows in a timely manner to minimize the potential spread of live virus during a depopulation and disposal event.With the cooperation of a large layer complex and utilizing spent hen depopulations, mortality windrows will be constructed wherein data acquisition of windrow temperature profiles, microbial testing for pathogenic indicator organisms, and evaluation of best available technologies to form and manage large-scale windrows will be evaluated. Additional investigations into the use of alternative windrow methodologies, such as the use of litter windrowing machines currently used by the broiler industry for between-flock litter management, or side-discharge carbon delivery machinery may provide improved performance in the formation and manipulation of poultry mortality windrows.