Use of screened dairy manure solids (SDMS) as composting amendment for carcase decomposition

Paul V. Rossitto, Carol Collar, Michael Payne, James S Cullor, Jim Sullins, Laura Di Renzo, Ting Fa Margherita Chang, Luca Iseppi, Paola Sechi, Maria Francesca Iulietto, Beniamino T. Cenci-Goga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


California is the largest agricultural producer in the United States and local dairy industry produces 21.5% of the national milk supply. There are 1470 dairies, 1789 million dairy cows and a total annual milk production of 18 million metric tons. The amount of dead cows to be disposed of is remarkable in intensive farming and it increases in periods of extreme weather events, such as drought in California. Composting of bovine mortalities is prohibited in California as a means of disposal of carcases, and can only be done under an emergency declaration. Composting is an effective disposal method that can aid in carcase disposal, especially during an emergency. The objective of this study was to use screened dairy manure solids (SDMS) as the composting amendment for carcase decomposition. Our hypothesis was that temperatures would be sufficiently high and of sufficient duration to destroy most bacteria within the carcases and that the leachate from the carcases would penetrate less than one foot into the underlying soil. No significant amounts of leachate were noted in the collection pipes buried beneath either soil type. Total bacterial counts exceeded 1×106 CFU/ml in approximately 19% of the swab samples from the sample collection pipes. The sandy soil had higher bacterial counts than the clay soil. Results of these trials indicate that adult dairy cows can be successfully composted without significant impact on the nearby surrounding environment. The basic hypotheses have been verified by the simple and multiple regression and chi-square non-parametric test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-351
Number of pages15
JournalItalian Journal of Animal Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • Carbon footprint
  • Composting
  • Dairy
  • Environment
  • Leachate
  • Screened dairy manure solids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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