Rotary Drum Composting of Poultry Mortalities

Published on: 10/15/2020
Author/s : Tom Tabler, Ph.D., Extension Professor, Poultry Science, Mississippi State University; Jonathan R. Moyle, PhD, Extension Poultry Specialist, University of Maryland Extension; and Jessica Wells, PhD, Assistant Clinical/Extension Professor, Mississippi State University.

In general, composting poultry can be described as an all-natural, environmentally friendly method of mortality management, which minimizes water and air pollution by retaining nutrients, pathogens, and odors. Given the right conditions, microorganisms break down organic material (poultry mortalities, in this case) and carbon into a useful and valuable finished product. Composting also c...

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Dr. Ashraf Ali Qureshi Dr. Ashraf Ali Qureshi
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
October 15, 2020

Hi Tom,
Thanks for sharing details of mortality composting by rotary drum. I have performed the process in static form using same recipe as you mentioned in your article. Temp raised to 140 F max and it took around 50 days. I have faced problem in ready compost that it contained bones which were not composted at all. Do you have any solution or what you think of happened with bones which were still in original state. Moreover, send me details of rotary composter drawings to know further working of machine. What happened to bones in rotary drum composter after 30 days of composting?


October 19, 2020
Dr. Ashraf Ali Qureshi
I think the daily turning and agitating helps to break up the bones in the rotary composter as long as the temperature and moisture levels are correct, more so than in a static bin or alleyway composter. The size of bird being composted may also play a role. However, we are composting 5 kg broilers at times and still do not see bones as long as we have the recipe right. However, if we have too low a temperature, compost that is too wet, or the wrong C:N ratio, we will see bones; even though the meat may have composted. It's a recipe and the recipe has to be right for the end product to turn out right. Hope this helps!

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Fred Hoerr
Fred Hoerr
DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVP, ACPV
  Nashville, Tennessee, United States
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