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Dead animal removal still problematic in Boyle County

The Boyle County Conservation District and Fiscal Court are still trying to find an affordable solution for local farmers to dispose of their dead livestock. And the pressure to find that solution quickly may have just increased, since the Casey County company that was offering the service has decided to stop coming to Boyle.

On Thursday, Bart Woodrum said after nearly two weeks of picking up dead animals for Boyle County, his business could no longer afford to provide the service because not enough farmers were calling on him.

Woodrum said he offered to help out the Boyle County Conservation District with dead animal removal until they could find a solution, after Bluegrass Recycling and Animal Removal from Winchester closed its doors. The Conservation District had paid for the pickup, which was a free service to the farmers, said BCCD board chair Allen Goggin.

The Conservation District is a special taxing district, which gets revenue from tax on property values. That tax revenue has helped fund the dead animal removal service in the past.

The district could afford to provide the service because Bluegrass Recycling charged $23 per animal, and made more profit by selling the carcasses to a rendering plant, Woodrum said. “They (the Conservation District) had a sweetheart of a deal,” he said.

Woodrum’s company composts the carcasses, he said, which is why he charges $82.50 per animal.

“I simply wanted to provide an affordable service for farmers until the county figured out what they wanted to do,” Woodrum said.

He came up with the price based on last year’s numbers of dead animal pickups, which averaged six to seven carcasses per day. “The volume made it work” to provide the service for Boyle, he said.

However, during the past two weeks he was averaging only one per day. “I’m not going to do it and lose money,” Woodrum said.

The Soil Conservation District doesn’t have the money to pay him and continue the free service for their farmers, he said.

“They’re awesome,” but “their hands are tied,” he said.

And farmers don’t understand why they have to pay the increased fees, he added.

“The county is going to have to deal with it.”

Thursday afternoon, Goggin said the District and county were still trying to find a permanent solution. That morning, he had already talked with a representative for a West Virginia company that sells incinerators.

“I don’t know if we’ll go that route or not,” he said.

The preliminary figure he got was about $200,000 for an incinerator that could only process one large cow or bull at a time. The cost of gas to burn one carcass at time would also be very expensive, he said.

District and county officials were still figuring out who might pay for the machine and where it would be located, he said.

They are also continuing to research composting animal carcasses, Goggin said.

“Everything is still on the table,” he said. But it is looking like composting would be the cheapest route for the county, he added.

In the meantime, Goggin said farmers will have to take care of their dead animals themselves, just like he had to when he buried a calf.

Until a permanent solution if figured out, Goggin said, “Just bear with us a little bit.”