Dealing With The Death of Livestock During Recovery

An unfortunate consequence of owning and raising animals is the inevitable death of some livestock, despite even the best animal husbandry and veterinary care. Animals may have died as a direct result of Hurricane Michael, or may have died following the storm as a result of injuries, illness, lack of adequate food and/or water, etc.

Livestock owners and custodians must therefore understand methods of responsible carcass disposal to protect their herds from various infectious diseases, be good stewards of the environment, and promote a positive image for the livestock industry.

Livestock That Died From Hurricane Michael

Proper carcass disposal first and foremost ensures the safety of the herd by removing the source of a variety of infectious diseases, as well as protecting wildlife from the same diseases. Proper carcass disposal also helps to avoid environmental problems and the undesirable publicity the livestock industry receives when carcasses are found in inappropriate places such as creeks, ponds, and along the side of the road.

Alabama law requires carcass disposal within 24 hours. Approved methods of carcass disposal include burial and burning, as well as disposing of the carcass in an approved landfill (contact your local landfill for more information). Burial is not an option for those locations in Alabama with a high water table. If an incinerator is used to burn mortalities, use one approved by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management Air Division.

Four Alabama Department of Agriculture Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories are also available to perform an examination into the cause of death (necropsy) and then dispose of the carcass. Contact information for the four Alabama Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories is listed below. The Alabama Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories should only be used when the cause of death needs to be determined.

Alabama Department of Agriculture Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories:

  • Auburn (334) 844-4987
  • Boaz (256) 593-2995
  • Elba (334) 897-6340
  • Hanceville (256) 352-8036

More Information

For assistance with any of the mentioned programs, please contact your local Animal Science and Forage Extension agent. This information can be found at or by contacting your local County Office.

  • Geneva County Extension Office: 334-684-2484
  • Henry County Extension Office: 334-585-6416
  • Dale County Extension Office: 334-774-2329
  • Houston County Extension Office: 334-794-4108

This article was adapted with permission from a previous article by Dr. Matt Poore, North Carolina State University.

Prepared by: Leanne Dillard, Ph.D., Extension Forage Specialist. Auburn University Department of Animal Sciences and Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences, Kim Mullenix, Auburn University Department of Animal Sciences, and Soren Rodning, Auburn University Department of Animal Sciences. Dillard 18-3.


Hurricane Michael Recovery Information

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