Disposing of deceased stock

After a natural disaster has passed through an area landholders may have to dispose of deceased stock through burial.

When planning for on-farm burial there are a number of factors that need to be considered. These issues include the environmental, statutory controls, logistics and safety.

As a guide a burial site should be located:

  • on heavier soil of low permeability and good stability
  • on elevated land but with a slope of less than 5% (preferably less than 2%)
  • at least 200 metres from any surface water (creek, river, lake, spring, dam)
  • greater than 200 metres from any ground water supply (stock and domestic bore)
  • above the one in 100 year flood level
  • greater than 300 metres from any sensitive use (such as a neighbouring house)
  • a safe distance from underground and above-ground infrastructure (such as a powerlines, telephone lines, gas lines, water pipes, sewerage)
  • well away from the view of the general public.

Pit construction should ensure:

  • there is at least two metres from the base of the pit to the level of the water table
  • carcasses are covered with at least two metres of soil
  • where necessary, excavate cut-off drains up slope of the burial pit to direct surface run-off away from the pit.

Following deposition of the carcasses into the pit, slightly mound pits after backfilling to allow for subsidence and promote runoff rather than infiltration.

Where possible, plan destruction activities close to the burial site so carcasses can easily and safely be placed into the pit and plant machinery has safe access.

You should also consider any disturbance to threatened plants or animals during the operation. Unless it’s absolutely critical it is preferable to ensure that carcasses are not moved from one location to another.