Veterinary Compliance Assistance


Carcass Disposal State Regulations


Depending on circumstances, large animal carcass disposal may be regulated by a state's solid waste, medical waste, agriculture, or emergency management regulations. If your state does not provide specific guidance or regulations relating to large animal carcass disposal, check with your local health department, or city/county laws and ordinances.

In addition, during emergency situations and disasters (e.g., blizzards, floods, hurricanes, mass die-offs, etc.), consult with your local emergency officials, your state emergency planning agency, or the state veterinarian, to determine approved methods of carcass disposal.

Applicable Agencies and Regulations for Iowa

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Address: 502 E. 9th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319-0034

Contact Information:

Rules and Regulations: Dead Animal FAQ. Answers to frequently asked regulatory questions about disposal of dead animals. Disposal options addressed, include

  • Rendering: Must be done within 24 hours of animal's death.

  • Landfilling: Some sanitary landfills will accept dead animals.

  • Burial: Burial must be no greater than 6 ft with a minimum of 30 inches of soil cover, in well drained soils. Other setbacks are described.

  • Composting: Contact the DNR or local Iowa State University Extension office for information on proper livestock composting (see below and Iowa State University Extension).

More Information

Composting Animals: A new solution to an old problem (Iowa University Extension, 1999). Bulletin created by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture (Iowa State University) and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources describes how on-farm composting of dead livestock can save producers money and help protect the environment.

The Cornell Waste Management Institute (CWMI) maintains a database of carcass disposal state regulations promulgated by state environmental, agricultural and other agencies. There may be additional information on this site, not found on VetCA, that can be helpful to veterinarians, ranchers and farmers. Click here to access the CWMI information for Iowa.

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