Deadstock management of farm animals in Ontario
Learn about the regulatory requirements for managing on-farm and off-farm deadstock.
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In 2009, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Parks (MECP) introduced a regulatory framework to address how farm animal deadstock is handled in Ontario.
The framework focuses on minimizing the risk to food safety, animal health, environmental impact and disease threat posed by the disposal of dead farm animals. Two new regulations were introduced in 2009.
Deadstock includes dead alpacas, bison, cattle, deer, elk, goats, llamas, sheep, yaks, horses, ponies, donkeys, pigs and other porcine animals and ratites.
The carcasses of poultry and rabbits also are included as deadstock if the custodian at the time of their death had more than 300 rabbits, or 50 turkeys or 300 poultry other than turkeys, whether dead or alive. Hybrids of any of these animals are also deadstock.
Nutrient Management Act, 2002
Ontario Regulation 106/09 under the Nutrient Management Act, 2002 (NMA) addresses on-farm disposal of dead farm animals.
This regulation defines farm animals as cattle, goats, sheep, horses, swine, deer, elk, alpacas, llamas, bison, yaks, donkeys, ponies, rabbits, poultry and fowl, ratites (for example, ostrich and emu) and fur-bearing animals.
The operator of the farm is responsible for disposing of the dead animal within 48 hours of its death. There are two exceptions to this rule:
- if a delay occurs in order to perform a post-mortem activity on the animal, or
- if the animal is put into temporary cold or frozen storage conditions (as specified in the regulation)
Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001
Ontario Regulation 105/09 under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 (FSQA) addresses disposal when the animal dies at a place other than a farm. The regulation establishes standards and requirements for transportation, processing, storage and disposal.
The regulation is designed to:
- protect public health by preventing meat from deadstock from entering the human food chain
- minimize impacts to animal health and the environment
The FSQA regulation applies to the management of farm animal deaths that could enter the human food chain, including cattle, goats, sheep, horses, swine, deer, elk, alpacas, llama, donkeys, ponies, rabbits, poultry, fowl, and ratites (for example, ostrich and emu).
The regulation does not apply to furbearing animals, other than rabbits, as the interest is only with animals that could potentially be served as food.
Plan for mortalities
A well-developed mortality disposal plan should include:
- an estimate of mortality numbers and volumes based on standard industry percentages and on-farm history
- removal procedures
- plans and facilities for temporary cold or frozen storage
- cleaning and disinfecting procedures
- selection of suitable disposal method
- method of record keeping
- a plan for dealing with mass mortalities
Use aerial photos and maps to identify disposal locations and identify setbacks. A Contingency Plan for the farm can also include actions to take in the event of mass mortality.
On-farm disposal options
Ontario Regulation 106/09 lists several options for disposal of dead farm animals. The OMAFRA fact sheet, Deadstock disposal options on-farm provides an overview of the various options for managing deaths.
The following OMAFRA fact sheets provide detailed information for several of the common on-farm disposal options such as the siting requirements, management considerations and equipment requirements to properly manage deadstock.
- On farm bin composting of deadstock
- Windrow composting of poultry carcasses
- Composting of cattle on-farm
The Regulation also contains provisions for dealing with emergency situations that result in large numbers of mortalities such as a power failure, tornado, barn fire, etc. Information for emergency situations is found in the OMAFRA fact sheet, Emergency disposal of on-farm deadstock.
Off-farm disposal options
Ontario Regulation 105/09 stipulates who may collect or receive deadstock for disposal, who must be licensed and sets out the methods of disposal. More information is found in Regulation 105/09 and the proper disposal of deadstock and off-farm deadstock licensing requirements.
The Regulation requires everyone in the business of collecting deadstock to be licensed. Anyone who receives deadstock for the purposes of salvaging meat from carcasses, feeding carcasses to captive wildlife, rendering, composting or storing and shipping is required to be licensed. The regulation also requires anyone in the business of receiving and distributing meat obtained from deadstock to be licensed. Contact information for licenced deadstock operators in Ontario or an interactive map of licensed deadstock operators in Ontario provides information on companies located in your region providing this service.