Carcass Management

Last Modified: May 09, 2024

The purpose of this page is to guide you through carcass management options for emergency planning or response purposes. The response goal for waste management is to properly dispose of contaminated and potentially contaminated materials, including animal carcasses, as soon as possible while containing disease pathogens, protecting the environment, ensuring stakeholder acceptance, and maximizing cost effectiveness.

We offer tools and resources to develop strategies for action plans and response, training and exercise for responders, and science-based information to make informed decisions before and during emergency response. These materials are intended to help with emergency planning and response phases through incremental steps of an incident. There are no simple solutions in response; often multiple strategies may be necessary.

Incident Response–First Steps

Effective carcass management takes planning. Below is step-by-step guidance and tools to assist you in the planning process.

A. The first step in carcass management is to assess the situation. Identify the types and quantities of animals involved, their average weight, and reason for their illness. You'll also need to consider the number and capacity of roll-off dumpsters available; distances to landfills, rendering, and incineration units; and the space available for compost or burial.

Use the Options, Time, and Cost Calculator by entering information in the blue boxes at the top of the tool. The calculator provides a comparison of onsite and offsite disposal options, including the time involved to dispose of carcasses and relative costs. It will help you make quick, informed decisions for planning.

B. Locating a specific premises can easily be done by clicking on the Routing Map. Rendering and incineration facilities, landfills, and State environmental offices will be shown in relation to the premises. Use the measuring tool (ruler icon in the upper right corner) to find the distance to a particular disposal facility. Click on the routing icon to obtain driving instructions for convenience and planning purposes.

A. The second step is to draft a Carcass Management Plan. Use the results from Step 1 and the checklists below. The calculator in step 1 will identify carcass management options. Then, the checklists ask questions to help you identify the resources you have for each option. Enter the resulting information in the Site-Specific Carcass Management Plan Template.

Note: Although the calculator includes an option for above-ground burial (referred to elsewhere as "shallow burial with carbon"), there is no additional checklist or planning information for this option; the technology supporting above-ground burials is not proven for all diseases and, if used, must have State approval. View this guidance document (736.36 KB) to learn more.

B. For those options that are feasible, decide how you will implement them. Use the planning guides below to estimate needed materials, supplies, and equipment. Enter this information in the Site-Specific Carcass Management Plan Template.

Indoor Composting

Outdoor Composting

Open Air Burning

Onsite Burial

Mobile Technologies

Landfills

Rendering Plants

Incinerators

The third step is to coordinate with local and State environmental officials. Once you have completed steps 1 and 2 and have a draft plan, discuss the plan with your State agriculture and environmental officials and make any changes needed to gain their written approval. Use the link below to identify your State's department of agriculture.

The Site-Specific Carcass Management Plan Template includes blank approval signature lines at the end for use if desired.

State Departments of Agriculture/Environmental Agencies

Have Questions?

Please email robert.a.miknis@usda.gov and jose.gallegos@usda.gov for any questions or comments.

Planning and Training

This section offers background planning documents, training modules, and other resources to help you create a carcass management plan.

View the guidelines document for guidance on disposal principles in an animal health emergency. For disease-specific information, view the chapters on depopulation and disposal in the response plans on the pages listed below.

ESF #11-Specific Training

  • Training Requirements for ESF #11 Desk Officers:
    • ICS 100 Introduction to Incident Command
    • IS-200.b ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents (this is a substitute for ICS-200)
    • ESF #11 Desk Officer Training (CLASSROOM—contact your ESF #11 Coordinator for scheduling)
    • IS-811 ESF #11 Overview
  • Optional for Desk Officers (required for agency coordinators except ICS 300 & 400):
    • IS-700.A National Incident Management System
    • IS-800.B National Response Framework
    • IS-293 Mission Assignment Overview
    • ICS 300 Intermediate ICS for Expanding Incidents; sign up in Aglearn
    • ICS 400 Advanced ICS for Command and General Staff; sign up in Aglearn

External Resources

Tools and Resources

This section offers tools and resources to help with carcass disposal.

Composting Documents

The following documents were developed for a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) incident, but can be applied in response to other diseases as well.