The deaths led to a scramble in carcass disposal, forcing the dumping of carcasses in landfills. This is contrary to the regular disposal methods of converting carcasses into pet food and fertilizer. Kansas is still experiencing high temperatures and experts predict more cattle deaths this summer.
In preparation for the carcasses, landfill workers flattened them using loading equipment and steel wheels. The cattle were flattened to about eight inches and mixed with other garbage. The process took well over three weeks, an indication of the huge amount of cattle that had to be disposed of.
Officials temporarily allowed companies to dispose of their carcasses in the Seward County Landfill in Liberal, Kansas. However, fears of foul smells have sparked concerns. The director of the landfill said that they are now considering other options due to fears of smell and if there are more deaths.
According to Kansas trash disposal guidelines, carcasses should be covered with up to 15.4cm of dirt each day. However, this requirement was suspended to deal with the huge number of carcasses. Ignoring this requirement now puts the landfill at risk of a bad smell when decomposition starts.
“After you run them over they’ll go flat, but they’re gonna sponge back up,” said Seward County Landfill Director Brock Theiner. “You get a mass of ’em and you get on it, and it’s like running a piece of equipment on top of a water bed. It moves.”
At least 2,117 cattle died after humidity levels spiked with temperatures reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit in southwestern Kansas on June 11, according to state records. The heat came at a time when some cattle had shed their coat, making it difficult to regulate their internal temperatures.
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