A foreign animal disease outbreak such as African Swine Fever (ASF) may result in numerous animal deaths in a short period of time and across much of the state. In addition, it will be necessary to destroy diseased or potentially diseased animals and properly dispose of the carcasses to prevent the spread of the disease. This guidance is designed to help Nebraska swine farmers plan in advance to deal with catastrophic swine mortality in the event ASF reaches the United States.
In order to protect other livestock operations from the spread of ASF, on-site disposal is required unless site conditions are not suitable. If an outbreak of African Swine Fever occurs in Nebraska, the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) will advise the Nebraska Department of Agriculture about the suitability for any affected site. However, a rapid response during an emergency to control the disease will be most successful if disposal sites are pre-selected. Livestock producers are encouraged to develop their own emergency disposal plans in advance of any outbreak.
On-site burial of diseased carcasses is the recommended method of disposal during an outbreak of African Swine Fever. The NDEE can assist producers determine locations of wells, depth to water, and the sizing of trenches for planning purposes.
For detailed information on African Swine Fever visit the Nebraska Department of Agriculture website: http://nda.nebraska.gov *
On-Site Burial – When done in compliance with state and local regulations, burial is an accepted method of disposing of animals and is often the disposal method of choice for catastrophic livestock losses. Burying the animals on-site within 36 hours after knowledge of death and at least four feet below the surface of the ground dramatically lowers the possibility of spreading a disease.
A state permit to bury on-site or on an adjacent contiguous property is not required; however, there are obligations under Nebraska rule and statute to protect ground water resources. With this in mind, it is recommended that a disposal site be selected with knowledge of the environmental conditions, including: land topography, depth to groundwater, surface water drainage, as well as soil type and depth. Also, separation distances to neighbors, surface water bodies, wells, roads and rights of way should be considered.
Recommended Separation Distances for Burial Sites
- At least 5 feet separation from the bottom of the burial pit to ground water (required);
- 4 feet of compacted cover soil (required);
- 1000 feet from public water supply wells, 500 feet from domestic wells and outside of any well-head protection areas (guideline);
- 300 feet from domestic water intakes, streams, creeks, ponds, springs and lakes and at least 100 feet from the edge of a major cut or embankment (guideline);
- 500 feet from residences (required), livestock facilities and adjacent pastures owned or leased by another person (guideline);
- 300 feet from a road (guideline);
- 500 feet from a secondary highway (guideline);
- 1000 feet from a primary highway (guideline); and
- Avoid above and below ground utilities when selecting an appropriate site.
It is useful to consider the depth, width and length of any burial trenches before site planning or excavation begins. See Attachment 1 – Trench Size Worksheet, and Attachment 2 – Disposal Checklist, for guidance on trench planning for your site (in this case swine).
On-Site Incineration – Disposal by burning requires the use of an incinerator permitted by the NDEE. In most circumstances, incineration is a difficult disposal method to employ quickly with large numbers of livestock carcasses. Other methods, such as open burning with an air curtain incinerator, would normally not be allowed. The cost of fuel for either of these methods may also limit them as viable options for disposal. However, during an emergency, such methods may be approved by the NDEE on a case-by-case basis. The NDEE Air Quality Division must be contacted if any incineration or burning is under consideration.
On-Site Composting – Composting of livestock mortalities is an approved method of disposal and was successful in the Avian Influenza outbreak in Nebraska in 2015. However, the African Swine Fever virus is very hardy and composting may not achieve the required temperatures for the proper amount of time to kill the virus. This disposal option does not appear to be a viable disposal method at this time. However, the NDEE will continue to evaluate this method of disposal for possible use in the future.
Note: Nebraska Statue §54-744 limits disposal to burial, incineration, composting, rendering or landfilling.* Burial, incineration and composting must be performed on-site or on an adjacent property. Restrictions apply. Questions concerning these statutory requirements should be directed to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. If alternate disposal methods are necessary due to an emergency, contact the Nebraska Department of Agriculture or the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy for more information.
*Veterinary clinics and laboratories have other options.
Titles are available on the NDEE Home Page under
“Laws/Regs & EQC” > “Rules & Regulations”
External Links and Resources
Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy
P.O. Box 98922
Lincoln, NE 68509-8922
To view this, and other information related to our agency, visit our website
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