1. Do not stockpile cattle.
During the warm weather months, carcasses quickly degrade, reducing or eliminating any of the original value contained in the hide, fat and meat. Some renderers will not remove these decomposed carcasses. When the ground is frozen and temperatures are not above freezing, some renderers may permit stockpiling, however, the volumes and timing of removal should be coordinated with your local renderer. Some renderers have attempted to minimize increases in carcass removal fees by structuring their charges on a "per stop" basis rather than "per head." Unfortunately, this has the undesired affect of encouraging producers to stockpile.
Calf carcasses have less value than cattle carcasses. Stockpiling calf carcasses does present a problem in some areas. Some renderers will not remove stockpiles or will take only the fresh carcasses. Other renderers may remove all the carcasses, but landfill the deteriorated carcasses at an additional loss. The producer ultimately pays for these poor carcasses as the additional disposal costs are reflected by increases in the pick-up charge.
2. Do not drag a carcass.
Dragging a carcass across the yard will create a "drag" on the cured hide – scratches that make the hide less useful for leather products, and lowering its value. A better way is to use a front-end loader or some other means to pick up the carcass and move it to the collection site.
3. Shade or cover the carcass properly.
Placing a carcass under a tree in the shade can help keep the carcass cooler and may save the hide. If there is no shade, use a sheet of plywood to cover the carcass – not black plastic. Black plastic collects the heat and will bake the animal before the renderer arrives, dramatically reducing its value.
Heating causes the rate of carcass decomposition to increase. As the carcass decomposes the proteins begin to putrefy. Bacteria and enzymes present in tissues degrade proteins into compounds that no longer have a nutritive value. Fats are modified anytime they are in the presence of water for an extended period of time. The free fatty acid content rises, which has a negative impact on its trading value. Heating of the hide causes the hair to fall out, which reduces the quality of the hide's surface. This reduces its value by at least 50 percent, and usually by as much as 80-90 percent.
4. Do not remove the head unless absolutely necessary.
NBP's current policy precludes them from collecting bovines that have their head removed or brain tissue removed for diagnostic purposes. Although FDA's feed ban rule 21 CFR 589.2000 does not prevent NBP from processing these carcasses as long as the resulting protein is labeled "Do not feed to cattle or other ruminants," NBP has chosen not to collect them. In the event a case of BSE were ever discovered in the U.S. and it was determined NBP (or another byproducts company) rendered the animal, damage to the company would be irreparable. Check with your local rendering service on its policy regarding headless cattle.
5. Provide good access to carcasses.
Most feedlots and dairies have designated a specific site with good truck access where they place the carcasses for removal. Many cow/calf operations request carcass removal from pastures, barns, fields, etc. This practice makes it difficult for drivers to locate and access these carcasses. Having a designated pick-up site for carcasses can also help with biosecurity on the operation.
6. Make timely calls to the renderer.
Because the animals in feedlots and dairies are more easily observed than on most cow/calf operations, stock removal calls usually are timelier. Most renderers would welcome any change in the way a livestock operation observes their animals that would reduce the duration of time from death to a request for carcass
7. Release gas from the rumen.
The practice of releasing gas from the rumen via a small mid-line belly cut (4 inches) through the hide and into the rumen does enhance carcass cooling. Because of their small size, calves do not need to be belly cut. However, it is an activity that requires training to perform safely. Veterinarians are best trained to do this. Some renderers would appreciate this help from those veterinarians who are comfortable performing this activity – other renderers may not. It would be best to check with your local renderer.