Animal carcasses could be composted safely at the Northern Landfill in Reese, two University of Maryland agriculture engineers told county officials yesterday as they toured the landfill.
The engineers, from the College Park campus, said they would design a building in which dead animals could be composted along with leaves and wood.
Farmers need a place to dispose of animal carcasses, Taneytown hog farmer Frank E. Feeser said yesterday.
Mr. Feeser is a member of the Carroll Agriculture Commission, which is studying the issue.
Only one rendering company -- Valley Protein in Winchester, Va. -- picks up dead animals on local farms.
Mr. Feeser noted that it's not safe to bury large animals.
The county commissioners have not approved an animal compost facility but have talked to Agriculture Commission members about it.
After the university engineers
design a structure, a county grants analyst will try to find federal or state grants to pay for at least part of the project.
Officials said yesterday they do not know how much the facility would cost.
Based on a county animal census and expected mortality, the facility should be set up to handle a maximum of 3,000 pounds a day, or the equivalent weight of two large cows, Carroll Cooperative Extension Service Director David L. Greene said.
Jack Curran, special projects coordinator in the county Public
See COMPOST, 5E
Works Department, said an animal composting project could work at the 220-acre landfill.
He suggested a site shielded by trees, away from the area where residents bring yard waste to be composted.
The nearest homes would be a quarter-mile to half-mile away, Mr.
Curran said, and the facility should not emit an odor.
He said he and some Agriculture Commission members visited a Lancaster County, Pa., farm with an odor-free animal compost pile this spring.
The compost made from the animal carcasses could be used as a cover for the landfill or as fertilizer on farmland, said Lewis E. Carr of the agriculture engineering department at the university.
He and Herbert L. Brodie, a water and waste systems professor, will design a compost building for the landfill. The building will probably be a simple structure consisting of poles and a concrete floor, they said.
Between 500 and 1,000 chicken farmers in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia have composting piles for dead chickens, Mr. Carr said.
The farmers use the compost for fertilizer.
The county commissioners also are considering composting garbage to save landfill space.
Dead animals should be kept separate from that waste, Mr. Carr said.
Mr. Greene said Agriculture Commission members hope farmers will continue to use rendering companies for large animals.
The landfill composting facility would be used to dispose of animals the rendering plants do not take, such as calves, sheep and goats, he said, and the county would charge a fee for bringing dead animals there.
The commission also is considering establishing a site at the landfill where farmers could drop off animal carcasses for pickup by rendering companies, Mr. Greene said.