Register Now for Animal Mortality Composting Workshops in Illinois

( Jennifer Shike )

Animal mortality composting is on the minds of many pig farmers in light of African swine fever (ASF) in China and the challenges that animal mortality disposal has caused. University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Beef Association, and USDA NIFA AFRI (grant # 12463377) will be conducting two animal mortality composting workshops in Illinois in August.

The first workshop will take place August 6 at the Jordon Township Building in Sterling, Ill., from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The second workshop will be held on August 13 at Rend Lake College in Ina, Ill., from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“This workshop gives livestock producers the opportunity to visit a demonstration composting site and talk with a variety of experts on mortality composting,” said Nesli Akdeniz, a clinical assistant professor with the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) at Illinois and a member of the Illinois Extension Livestock Facilities and Manure Management team.

Registration is limited and closes one week before each event at There is a $25 fee for the first registrant and $10 for any additional people from the same farm. This fee includes a lunch for each attendee. 

In the morning, participants will learn about different aspects of mortality composting, including new technologies available. Ted Funk, an agricultural engineering consultant with Illinois Pork Producers Association and Illinois Beef Association, will discuss regulations and practical concerns. Stanley Solomon, U of I Extension educator, will provide a general overview of the mortality composting process. Akdeniz will explain how to manage composting sites. 

Participants will learn about mortality management in the event of a major livestock disease outbreak or significant animal lost due to natural disaster. Gary Flory, agricultural program manager with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, will share on video his real-world experience with mortality management during disease outbreaks and natural disaster events. Akdeniz will present a visual tour of a recently completed biosecure composting study. 

After this, the group will move to an active composting site for discussions and demonstrations, including moisture control, selection and mixing of a carbon source and measuring temperature in the compost. 

“We will conclude the day by turning a compost pile that has already gone through a full heat cycle so that producers can see when they should turn a pile and what it should look like,” Solomon said.

The workshop will use beef animals as the compost nitrogen sources at both sites to address biosecurity concerns for pork producers. Other precautions will be implemented at the Sterling farm site as well. At the southern site, the composter is on Rend Lake College grounds, away from other animal activity. 

More from Farm Journal's PORK on composting:

A Mortality Composting How-To

Tough Decisions: Animal Mortality Disposal During a Disease Outbreak

Mortality Composting: Making Happy Microbes