Making Roadkill Useful

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by ICT Bill, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    Hey TG, this is right up your alley :) The mullinix family are very large landowners with many generations having lived here in MD. This is from Sundays washington post

    Md. Puts Roadkill To Work on Roadsides
    Dead Deer Turned Into Compost at Frederick Facility
    Making Roadkill Useful
    Area motorists kill scores of deer every week. In Frederick County, state highway workers have begun hauling dead deer to compost stalls to turn them into mulch.
    Washington area motorists kill more than 3,000 deer annually. What, then, to do with all that roadkill?

    In Frederick County, state highway workers have an unusual answer: Place the carcasses in giant bins, separated by layers of wood chips and manure, and turn them into compost. By year's end, if all goes well, the first batch of compost could be helping fields of wildflowers grow along some of the same roads where the deer were killed.

    A once-popular method of disposal, burying the deer near where they are found, has become less feasible in Frederick with the proliferation of subdivisions and underground utility lines, never mind the problem of frozen ground in the winter.
    Still, working the compost bins isn't for everyone.
    "Kinda' swing it up," Rob Mullinix told co-worker Robert Morgan recently as the two placed a freshly killed deer next to another deer.
    "We want the legs pointed out," Mullinix said. "Just kinda' flip him. Ready?"
    "You want it head-to-head?" Morgan asked.
    The facility is tucked behind a bank of trees near a rest stop off Interstate 70. The Maryland State Highway Administration has a similar program in Carroll County, which appears to be the only other such operation in the Washington region.

    Nationally, the idea of turning roadkill into compost appears to be catching on. Nearly 50 such operations have sprung up in recent years in New York state and other states, such as Kentucky and Ohio, have tried composting roadkill. In Montana, authorities also compost elk and moose.

    The Frederick operation has eight covered composting bins, each about the size and shape of a small horse stall. When full, the bins typically contain about 40 deer carcasses in four layers.

    The manure in the mixture supplies carbon and nitrogen. The wood chips supply carbon and create air pockets that feed oxygen into the mix. The deer carcasses also supply nitrogen. All combine in an organic process that raises the temperature to about 150 degrees, cooking off possible pathogens such as fecal coliform bacteria, officials said.

    Like a lot of things, getting rid of dead deer used to be a simpler affair.
    In the 1960s and 1970s, state police in Frederick would lash deer carcasses to the trunks of their cruisers and haul them to the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo, where they were fed "primarily to the big cats," said Richard Hahn, director of the preserve.

    "We almost always got the animals the same day they were hit," Hahn said, "sometimes within hours."
    Hahn said he doesn't feed his big cats roadkill deer anymore because of concern about viruses, bacteria and parasites.

    In 2001, Maryland highway workers in Carroll began experimenting with deer composting. Workers there use front-end loaders to rotate the composting piles, which keeps temperatures high by feeding oxygen into the mixture. Workers then cover any exposed body parts, such as leg bones, with the wood chip-manure mixture, said Jim Jones, a manager in Carroll.

    After six to eight months of composting and curing, the deer are reduced to large bones such as skulls and hips, Jones said. The big bones are sifted out, for aesthetic reasons, before the compost is applied along roadways, Jones said.

    As of late last year, the Carroll operation had composted more than 3,360 deer and applied 180 cubic yards of deer compost, some of it on wildflowers in the median of Route 295, just south of Route 100.

    In many jurisdictions in the region, highway workers haul dead deer to landfills or have private contractors pick them up.

    In Loudoun and Prince William counties, contractors take carcasses to local landfills, said Mike Salmon, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Transportation. In Fairfax County, landfills don't accept roadkill, so contractors haul carcasses to the Prince William dump. In recent nine-month stretches, haulers picked up 460 dead animals in Fairfax and 996 deer in Loudoun.

    Along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, dead deer are hauled to an undisclosed location in a wooded area. "Essentially, the deer become part of the forest again," said Dana Dierkes, a spokeswoman.
    In Montgomery County, dead deer are placed in a refrigerated facility in Gaithersburg and then picked up by Valley Proteins Inc. At its headquarters in Winchester, Va., the company places the carcasses into a cooking unit the size of a backyard swimming pool -- 40 feet long, 15 feet wide and 10 feet deep. Two products are produced: a protein meat and bone meal, used as chicken feed, and a fatty oil, which can be used as a lubricant or alternative fuel, said Mike Smith, vice president and co-owner of the company.

    State officials have said they are planning to operate an incinerator in the Frostburg area, in Western Maryland, to burn roadkill.

    At Cornell University, Jean Bonhotal, has studied roadkill composting for 11 years. Among her research projects: inserting sacks of pathogen-laden material into composting roadkill deer and demonstrating that composting reduces them to safe levels. Bonhotal, a vegetarian, holds roadkill composting seminars and publishes guides. "Lance the stomach if the carcass is bloated," she advises in one manual. "Explosive release of gases can result in odor problems and would blow the cover material off the composting carcass."

    Such concerns notwithstanding, Bonhotal said composting often is the best available option, she said. "I think it will catch on pretty quickly," she said.

    But skeptics said animal flesh actually impedes the natural composting process, which is better suited for grass clippings and vegetable refuse. And not all regulators are enamored.

    In Montana, the state Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department won't let highway workers spread compost produced from roadkill, officials said. The department is concerned about the spread of chronic wasting disease, akin to mad cow disease, in deer.

    Doug Moeller, head maintenance engineer at the Montana highway department's Missoula office, said if he can't persuade wildlife regulators to allow him to apply the compost roadside, he will simply keep the compost at highway department facilities. He prefers composting over the old method of dragging roadkill to what even in Montana are no longer out-of-the-way places. "We had too many complaints from people," he said.

    At the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Bob Beyer, an associate director, said he has no problems with the program. He is concerned about chronic wasting disease, though, and said his agency tests more than 1,000 deer a year for it.

    No cases have been found, but if one is found, Beyer said, his agency won't allow highway workers to spread their compost
  2. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Posts: 2,636

  3. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

  4. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    JD & BILL, thanks, phill is going to put that song on his phone message
  5. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    Or you could of used a hydraulic press and squished them, thats what they do with cattle left overs
  6. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    the wood chipper is more fun and a better show
  7. 44DCNF

    44DCNF LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,460

    eeek! images of Fargo......
  8. Tim Wilson

    Tim Wilson LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 795

    Back in 1969, when I first moved to this glorious mountain area where I hang my hat, I was even poorer than I am now and unemployed. I rented a shack with a friend, by the side of the highway for $25 monthly. In summer it wasn’t bad. There were fish in the river adjacent to the house and I shot some squirrels, rabbits and gophers with my 22. Even got a deer donated by a friend. As winter closed in, I looked at our bare cupboards in the old cabin that trembled and shook every time a logging truck went by and wondered how we were going to make it. Little did I realize at the moment that those trucks and the sharp icy corner before they crossed the bridge was our meat market. Once the road iced up, almost every second day there was a fresh dead deer on the side of the road within dragging distance, that had enough good parts left on it for fine eating. The filet tenderloin along the backbone the favorite; yummy. We survived the whole winter eating nothing but deer and the occasional piece of fruit or a potato. In spring we got a yearling bear still warm hit by the beer truck. Just as we were carving him up and roasting chunks in the fire in the yard some Jehovah witnesses rolled up to convert us. When they saw us all covered in blood and munching on bits of meat they beat a hasty retreat. Now that’s what I call using roadkill.
  9. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    that's all i have to do to curb the Jehovah witnesses, eat a little road kill flambe!!! let me get my keys........

    TIM that's priceless, does that make you a decomposer?
  10. Tim Wilson

    Tim Wilson LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 795

    Absolutely! It comes out the other end all ready for the heap.

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