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Greenfest Whitehead Elementary

Composting Deer Mortalities

Composting Deer Mortalities

This doe was hit by a car. We are going to compost the dead body and feed it "Back To The Earth". Returning the nutrients in organics, back to our soils, is a completion of the cycle of life. This animal's remains will now foster new life. Through the process of thermophilic composting, this dead animal will feed plants which it once consumed. It will then sequester carbon from our atmosphere through those plants, add to water purification and infiltration through microbial rich compost and plant roots, as well as prevent soil erosion by means of compost mulching - a truly rich afterlife.

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Static Compost Pile

First, we flatten the top of the pile.

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The temperature of the pile tells me, there is a good population of thermophilic bacteria present. It's important to understand the way thermophilic composting works. Unlike Mesophliles, Thermophiles can generate enough heat to kill pathogens. In just three days at 131oF all pathogens that can harm plants or animals are killed. You could eat it and it wouldn't harm you, though it might not taste very good.

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The animal's body is placed on the compost pile.


Covering 1

My son, Brett McConnell covers the animal's body with active material.

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Covering 2

Brett has been working and playing with compost since he was two. He knows well how this natural process will bear a nutrient rich soil.

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Covered In Compost

The dead animal is now fully covered in active compost.

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Capping The Pile

By capping the pile with thermophilic wood mulch, we are adding an extra layer of active carbon to the pile. This will ensure a total suppression of odors, increase water infiltration, and insulate the thermophiles against the cold of winter.

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Monitoring Temperatures

We monitor the temperatures of the new piles for the first couple of weeks. Temperatures are measured, every couple of days, at different points around the pile.

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Temperature Day 6

Once the thermophilic bacteria get into the animal, the temperature will increase rapidly. A temperature of 160oF at the top of the pile will hold for several days. When the nitrogen level drops, so will the temperature. This reading was taken at 18" into the top of the pile.

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Temperature Side Of Pile Day 6

The picture here is a little blurry. The temperature is 138oF at the side of the pile, about 18" deep.

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Composting Other Mortalies

It's always sad when we see an animal dead on the road. I know this life energy will continue on through the act of composting. 

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Big Dead Dog

The compost pile is ready for the dead animal's body.

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Compost Temperature

The temperature of the compost is documented before we lay the animal to rest.

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Highways are dieways for animals. This large Rottweiler was another victim of the highway. The GA. DOT would have taken him to the landfill; that's where they take road kill.

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Capped Pile

The temperature is measured in a number of places around the pile.

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The temperature after three days is over 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Temperature 1/17/05

The temperature after four days is now over 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Temperature 1/18/05

The temperature after five days is still at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Ambient Temperature

I'm often asked what happens to the bacteria in the compost pile when it gets cold out. The ambient temperature at the time of measuring was about 36 degrees at 10:30 am. The mass of the pile keeps the temperature stable.

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