A fire in a north-central Iowa confinement operation killed fifteen-hundred hogs. Department of Natural Resources environmental specialist Cindy Garza says she’s already been up to visit with the farmer about what happened. She says her job’s to deal with the producer and help them figure out how to dispose of the animals.
The options include rendering, “landfilling,” and composting. Garza says it’d cost money to call a rendering company to pick up the dead animals for use in petfood or other industrial processing, and the farmer also would have to pay money to haul them to a public landfill. She says the Floyd County farmer in this case chose composting, or arranging for the animals to naturally decompose in a controlled manner.
She explained how to put down a “base layer” of sawdust, put the bodies down not touching one another, then cover them so heat and humidity will help them break down. The result is organic material that can be used as fertilizer, without the risk of contaminating local water supplies. The D-N-R helps the farmer handle it properly, so the loss can be turned into some productive use and avoid causing environmental trouble. She says there’s less going to the landfill this way, she says, the end product is reusable, and it’s a process that can be done on a small scale. The cause of the fire, which also destroyed several hog barns, has not been determined.