Legal options for carcass disposal
Burial can be the most cost effective option if you own the equipment to prepare the site. This may not be an available option in all areas of the state. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health states that the carcass must be:
5 feet above the high water level
Covered with 3 feet of soil
In soils that are over 10 feet away from bedrock
Following these regulations will prevent groundwater contamination.
Burial should include a sufficient soil cover to prevent carcass exposure by burrowing, digging, or scavenging animals and erosion. During winter months, breaking the ground for burial may be difficult or not an option until spring.
Review your state’s regulations on livestock carcass disposal. When managed properly, composting can be an environmentally-friendly and low-cost option for carcass disposal. You can use the end product of carcass composting as a soil addition in agricultural fields or flower gardens.
Cremation can allow horse owners to retain a physical part of their horse, but can be expensive. A burn pile on the property can’t attain a complete incineration and isn’t a legal. Generally, state-licensed facilities must complete incineration and follow strict emission and temperature guidelines. In Minnesota, the Department of Health (MDH) is the administering agency.
Rendering is an option for carcass disposal. It costs $150 or more per pickup.
In Minnesota, Central Bi-Products Company renders horses and other large animal carcasses.
The University of Minnesota does not endorse this rendering service but aims to provide horse owners with legal carcass disposal options.
Fur farm and pet food manufacturers commonly use livestock carcasses. Fur farms may not take animals that were chemically euthanized as the solution may harm their animals.
Horse owners are rarely allowed to directly drop off carcasses at these facilities.
The State of Minnesota regulates these options and involves the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Pollution Control Agency (PCA) and Board of Animal Health (BAH).
Reviewed in 2022