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How To Make Compost From Roadkill [Video]

how to make compost from roadkill

Animals die. Sometimes from means that we argue over – slaughter for meat, hunting – sometimes from natural causes, and sometimes from accidents. If you’ve ever hit an animal with your car, you know you probably felt just sick afterwards (and, depending on the animal, may have had significant damage done to your vehicle). You probably didn’t deal with the animal’s carcass, though (unless you’re one of those folks who eats roadkill) – you probably left it where it was, figuring nature or the government agency responsible for road maintenance would handle it. Those agencies do handle animal carcasses on the side of the road… and, from just a bit of Googling, it looks like composting has become a popular method.

The video above demonstrates how to make compost from dead animals – Virginia’s Daily Press shares a brief overview of how the state’s Department of Transportation deals with roadkill at its composting center in Windsor. They don’t share how the compost is used, but I’d guess that plants and landscaping at public sites gets at least a portion of its nutrition from animals killed on state roadways.

No doubt that this is a environmentally preferable alternative for dealing with dead animals – putting them in landfills just contributes to overuse of that space and methane production, and burning them takes up fuel without any kind of return. At the same time, it’s not something that just anyone with a backyard compost bin can do – your small-scale compost operation isn’t able to handle the pathogens created, and I’m sure it would take a really long time. But larger-scale operations dedicated to this practice make a lot of sense.

Need more detailed information? Cornell’s Department of Crop & Soil Sciences has a ton of good information on composting, including dead animals… check it out. If this is a practice with which you’re familiar, or have some experience, chime in…

5 comments
  1. Bill

    We don’t reguarly use dead animals in our compost, but we do add the ocassional chicken carcass, the remains of cleaned fish, and a groundhog now and then. Just be careful to only put them in piles that will get very hot and won’t be used for a long time. In our case we don’t put dead animals in a compost pile unless it is going to cook for another 8-18 months.

      1. Bill

        We keep a couple of fairly large piles going at all times. We don’t use any particular recipe or formula for compost, but we make sure we keep enough “hot” stuff in it to keep it cooking. In addition to kitchen scraps, we add horse manure and the bedding from our barn stalls and run in sheds. The main “brown” components are leaves and rotten hay. Makes great compost.

  2. Compost Water Heaters and the Allure of Jean Pain - Sustainablog

    […] Compost is hot. Not in the buzzwordy, trending-on-Twitter sense, but in the literal, heat-that-you-can-feel way. The aerobic bacteria in compost piles that break down waste also cause surrounding temperatures to riseβ€”it’s a byproduct of the oxidization process. Farmers all over the place report the phenomena of walking by their compost heap in the dead of winter and seeing it bare, all the snow around it melted. In fact, in a well-designed system, temperatures could easily reach over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. So what if you could apply that heat toward a useful purposeβ€”say, warming up your shower, or heating your home? That’s the idea French inventor Jean Pain and many of his acolytes adopted in the 1970sβ€”a tricky, sometimes elusive goal that continues to draw environmentalist experts and amateurs alike today like the white whale of permaculture. […]

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