If you're into horse ownership for the long term, chances are you will someday have to deal with the death of a horse. Disposing of a large animal's carcass can prove challenging, but composting allows owners to dispose of their animals and at the same time naturally improve the soil conditions on their properties, according to Stephen Higgins, PhD, director of Environmental Compliance for the Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Kentucky's (UK) College of Agriculture. The Agricultural Experiment Station serves as the research arm of UK's College of Agriculture.
Composting involves locating an appropriate site on a property, then leveling that site to accommodate the burial. Once an owner had determined and prepared the site, he or she should put down a three-foot-thick bed of wood shavings as a base for the equine remains. Situate the carcass on the wood shavings base, then cover it with an additional three to four feet of wood shavings to create a pile approximately six to eight feet tall.
"A pile of this size should provide about two feet along the sides of the carcass," Higgins said.
Done properly, the burial will not attract vermin to the composting site because they will be unable to smell the carcass inside the pile, Higgins said.
"It has to do with beneficial bacteria scrubbing the putrid gases," he said.
Higgins said it should take between six and eight weeks to compost a 1,000-pound horse with some large bones remaining. In addition to horse carcass disposal composting is also an option for disposing animal manure and bedding, afterbirth, and other animal mortalities, he said.