Survey looks at perceptions of horse carcass composting

Hannah Lochner
University of Minnesota Extension

Challenges associated with burial, rendering, and cremation have forced horse owners to seek alternative carcass disposal methods. While horse carcass composting has been successfully demonstrated, industry-wide adoption has been limited. Therefore, UMN researchers evaluated horse owner and veterinarian perceptions and experience with carcass composting.

Horse owners and veterinarians were asked to complete a survey on euthanasia and carcass disposal practices. Most respondents were middle-aged females with long-term involvement in the horse industry. Horse owners (86%) and veterinarians (84%) that preferred chemical euthanasia tended to prefer burial (58% and 42%, respectively) over other carcass disposal methods. Only 12% of horse owner respondents had ever tried composting and only 25% of veterinarian respondents had ever recommended composting. Horse owner (47%) and veterinarian (67%) respondents indicated they would be more open to trying and recommending carcass composting if more scientific research were available. Most horse owners (74%) and veterinarians (72%) had not used or recommended composting due to limited knowledge of the practice.

Horse carcass composting shows potential as a primary disposal method for the horse industry. Research and educational programs are key to industry-wide acceptance of horse carcass composting.

A woman and a horse near sunset.