On-Farm PED Deadstock Disposal in Cold Weather
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PED) was confirmed in Ontario
in January 2014. The risk of PED transmission between farms is high.
On-farm biosecurity is critical to keep this serious virus out of
your barns. Producers with PED infected deadstock should work with
their deadstock collector to minimize the risks of transmission,
or consider on-farm mortality disposal alternatives. This Infosheet
discusses options for PED deadstock disposal on-farm in cold weather.
Additional information on deadstock disposal is also found on the
Ministry of Agriculture and Food
Actions for On-Farm PED Deadstock Disposal in Cold Weather
Some key principles for PED deadstock disposal during cold weather include:
a) Establish a Line of Separation:
Identify and mark a clear line on the barn property across which equipment, personnel, and materials should not cross, or should only be crossed with the appropriate biosecurity protocols. Put up a sign on something large and sturdy that won't blow away. Use bright colours visible in the snow. Put your phone number on the sign so delivery people or approved visitors don't accidentally cross the line to find you. Lines of separation are already part of most farms' biosecurity protocols, but the boundaries may not be obvious in winter as existing signs may be obscured by snowbanks. String some ropes to establish a boundary. Define the area clearly.
b) Deadstock Collection:
If deadstock is normally picked up by a deadstock collection service it is important to contact the collector when PED is found so that steps can be taken by both the producer and collector to mitigate the risk of disease spread.
c) Access Existing Information for On-Farm Disposal:
Information is available outlining the four recommended on-farm deadstock disposal approaches: composting, use of a disposal vessel, burial and incineration. These approaches are approved under the deadstock regulation and are designed to minimize environmental risk. Most PED mortalities are piglets; therefore the information for small animal deadstock disposal is most relevant.
d) Minimize Traffic On and Off the Farm:
Minimize traffic coming on and off the farm to prevent the spread of PED, and ensure any vehicles coming on to your farm are following your biosecurity protocol. Traffic might include equipment to dig a burial pit, deliver compost substrate, or deliver or install new equipment such as a tank for a disposal vessel, an in-vessel composter, or a freezer. PED survives well in cold conditions making movement of contaminants from snow surfaces onto tires or vehicles a risk. Steps to minimize risk include:
e) Timing of Deadstock Disposal:
Updated deadstock regulations were enacted in 2009. According to the regulation, dispose of deadstock within 48 hours of death unless they are kept in cold or frozen storage. Cold weather makes cold storage easier. If deadstock are kept in frozen storage (inside or outside), they have to be kept on the farm where they died, in a leak-proof container, and covered up or out of public view. Keep deadstock secured to prevent scavengers from accessing them. Deadstock can be kept in cold storage for up to 14 days following death. While the regulation allows frozen storage for up to 240 days, for PED deadstock long-term storage is not recommended since the virus can survive for months at freezing temperatures, increasing the risk of virus transmission. Storing piglet deadstock in freezers is permitted until a disposal site is prepared. If deadstock are to be composted, it is recommended that they are added to the compost pile unfrozen.
Proper composting of deadstock disposes of the carcasses and creates temperatures that destroy the PED virus. Piglet deadstock will compost well in a properly designed passive windrow compost pile, even in cold weather. With a good recipe, cold compost materials will start to heat up within a few hours and remain in this heated state throughout the compost period. Do not add frozen deadstock to the compost pile. To prevent freezing during start-up, substrates should be as dry as possible. The unfrozen deadstock will provide the moisture for the pile.
For compost designs and recipes, see the Deadstock Disposal BMP (p. 57) and the OMAF factsheet, Windrow Composting of Poultry Carcasses. Composting piglets is similar to composting poultry deadstock as described in the factsheet.
Getting the right compost substrate materials is important, particularly when it's cold. While wood shavings are expensive, they are readily available from sources that supply the dairy and poultry sector (check the classifieds ads in local farm newspapers). On-farm materials such as very dry manure (>30% dry matter), hay, and silage, or clean off-farm materials (wood shavings) are all good substrates. If possible, do not use manure from the PED-infected barn as a substrate ingredient in the compost pile since hauling manure out of a barn or storage with a high infection rate will increase the risk of transmission off-site.
Compost that reaches proper composting temperatures should provide sufficient treatment to eliminate the PED virus. Turning and monitoring deadstock compost piles as described in the Deadstock Disposal BMP will result in the best treatment of materials. The deadstock regulation requires keeping the compost piles at least 6 m (20 ft.) from tile drains. See the suggestions in the Burial Section if tile spacing doesn't allow for this separation.
Quick Steps to Compost in Winter:
For more detailed information see Windrow Composting of Poultry Carcasses.
g) Disposal Vessels:
Though not commonly used in the swine sector, a disposal vessel is an excellent option for PED deadstock. A disposal vessel is a tank that is leak-proof when installed in the ground. Deadstock is added without any extra substrate and the deadstock decompose in the tank. Disposal vessels are a good option during an outbreak of sickness because they contain the contaminated deadstock in one spot for a long time as biological breakdown occurs. This minimizes the risk of transmission or seepage of any contaminants. The disposal vessel can be a clean old tank (feed bin, water tank, etc.) and should not contain any leftover materials. If making modifications to the tank, ensure there is no chance of fire or explosion caused by any liquid or vapour in the tank. Repair all holes to prevent seepage. According to the deadstock regulation, a disposal vessel must be at least 16 m (50 ft.) from a tile drain.
Quick Steps to Installing a Disposal Vessel in Winter:
For more detailed information see Disposal Vessels for On-Farm Deadstock.
Burial of mortalities is an acceptable method in the deadstock regulation. A large excavator is needed when digging in frozen ground, but in many cases the ground is only frozen in the first 30 - 60 cm (1 - 2 ft.) particularly when the ground is snow-covered. Dig the burial pit in a long and narrow shape, as described in the Deadstock Disposal BMP (p.89). Alternatively, dig a large auger hole (at least 30 cm (1 ft.) in diameter). Place the burial pit at least 6 m (20 ft.) from the tile drain to minimize the possibility of seepage in the spring. In systematically tiled fields with 12 m (40 ft.) spacing, identifying the tiles in winter and finding a spot with sufficient setbacks may be difficult. If you have to bury on tiled land, use the excavator to cut the tiles up and downslope of the burial location. Finding the upstream and downstream tiles will be difficult on frozen ground.
Quick Steps for Burial in Winter:
For more detailed information see Burial of On-Farm Deadstock
i) Emergency Authorizations for Deadstock Disposal:
If the options listed don't work for your operation and you need to try something else or seek an exemption from some part of the deadstock regulation, an Emergency Authorization for Deadstock Disposal can be issued. To apply for an Emergency Authorization, contact:
There are several workable deadstock disposal options that can be put in place on the farm, even in cold weather. Check the OMAF website for guidance and direction. In addition, the Agricultural Information Contact Centre may be able to direct you to local OMAF technical staff to support you through emergency circumstances.
Contact: Agricultural Information Contact Centre,
For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300