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Feeding fish on roadkill and other carrion

 
Dale Hodgins
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     This is likely to be the most macabre proposal you will see from me for some time. It's really too bad I didn't have this one ready for Halloween.

    I live in a spot where many animals are killed on the roadways. This thread will deal with how to make use of this resource and also of any other dead creatures. The road which passes by my place leads to a wilderness area where deer and other creatures are hunted. And domestic animals often die for one reason or another. Circle of life stuff. Farms around here don't generally use herbicides and other poisons since it's mostly hobby farms. So there's no shortage of clean dead meat.

       In figuring out what to do with roadkill and other dead wildlife and domestic animals I've hatched an idea which I believe to be simple and efficient. While certain things like freshly killed deer might make good dog food or people food, is quite likely that many animals will be too far gone to be practical or even safe to butcher. So why not run everything through a grinder and feed it to fish. Catfish and other predatory species can safely eat things that would make a buzzard sick.

   There are several advantages to this. Fish are not susceptible to mammal diseases and therefore nothing would be spread. Many fish are able to live on a diet which is boom and bust. If I've got 1000 catfish they should be able to consume a deer whenever the opportunity presents itself. They are able to eat a big meal which will sustain them for a long time. When there is no large influx of food, I'll feed them frozen chicken guts and other leftovers. They could be fed, just enough to keep them going until the next feast.

    Labor wise it's much quicker to run animals through a Hammermill than to do any type of hand processing. Depending on the size of machine used, larger animals may need some processing. This adds a whole new meaning to the word "quarter horse."

  Here's how this would work logistically.------------ I would extend the rubber liner from the pond onto a sloped platform where a Hammermill would sit. Small creatures would be fed directly into the chopper "Steve Buchemi style." Remember the movie Fargo? Larger animals which would tend to clog the machine could be hoisted with the crane on a hemp rope and lowered into the chopper slowly enough that it doesn't clog. The effluent from the chopper would empty onto a sloped sheet of stainless steel. Fish could be fed this material immediately after processing or it could be frozen or dried for future use.

    Is it doable mechanically?---------- I have used a 5 hp bearcat chipper to process dead chickens, rabbits, and fish waste. Something in the neighborhood of 50 to 100 hp should be able to process an elephant if it were cut into 1000 pound chunks. Dog food factories employ similar technology. I'll probably buy a unit that fits onto the back of a farm tractor or something that can run off of the crane's hydraulic system. Sometimes large electrical hogs meant for processing forestry waste come available on the used market.

    Personal safety.-------------- The primary risk with this operation would be of someone contracting some disease from the dead animals. We don't have rabies here, but the deer carry ticks, which carry Lyme disease. Proper clothing and an asbestos grade respirator will greatly reduce risk. Other than that, the main risks are related to heavy lifting and the possibility of being crushed. That's why I'll use the crane for everything over 200 pounds.   

   Water quality.--------- For my purposes, huge amounts of nutrients in the water is desirable since this water will be used in an aquaponics grow bed. I will only raise fish which thrive in rich water. Fish will be able to choose to eat bone material, flesh or stomach contents. Other foods will be offered simultaneously so that I may learn if what I'm providing is a preferential food. For many predatory fish ground carcasses should be a welcome addition to their diet.

    Smell.----------- I won't stockpile anything which is not frozen. I'm sure the pond's bottom mud will develop and odor. Regular turnover of this material and incorporation into nitrogen poor materials such as wood chips should absorb odors and nutrients. Bad smells are nitrogen based, so in managing odor, I will also be managing nutrient losses.

    Bioaccumulation.----------. My only real concern with this entire plan is that I don't want feed the fish anything which would contain accumulated toxins. Domestic animals which have died after veterinary intervention may contain antibiotics and other undesirable substances. I'll find out how much if any of this could be carried through to the fish and will make my decisions solely on scientific evidence.

     Pet Cemetery.-------------  This one's going to be unpopular with the squeamish. There is good money in disposing of deceased pets. Most of these animals currently go to incinerators and the ash is landfilled. These animals could be useful as fish food. The only issue I have with this is bioaccumulation of toxins. Many domestic animals have a long life span and are fed processed foods. All of the corn, soybeans and such are likely to contain certain unwanted chemicals. A 15-year-old domestic cat, who has been fed on canned tuna is likely to contain some mercury. I'll do my research and let scientific evidence be my guide. If it proves to be too high in toxins, I may use them to feed ornamental fish such as piranha,koi and Oscar fish.

    I won't hide the fact that the pets are to be fish food. In fact, I may advertise it. I would rather be fed to fish than run through an incinerator. So I think many will see this as the greener choice. Veterinarians commonly freeze small animals which are euthanized. These could therefore be used immediately or stored depending on how abundant other sources are.

    Legalities.------------ Dead animals are commonly converted to pet food. Mammals are fed to mammals. A mammal to fish system is far less likely to foster the spread of disease. So, I doubt that there will be any legal restriction. If there are restrictions. I will investigate them and any possible penalties and make a pragmatic decision. There are licensing requirements for those handling dead stock, but it's nothing difficult or expensive to acquire.   

     Realistically, it makes sense to give this a whirl with some secondhand unit I can pick up for a few hundred dollars. If it proves successful and profitable, I'll spend whatever amount makes sense. A unit like this would be valuable for processing compost, for busting up hard building clay and for many other purposes around a farm.

   All of these animals would give a huge nutrient boost to the farm. I could see using pond water to irrigate nutrient hungry crops and to expedite decomposition of woodwaste. I have no shortage of water, so fresh water could be added to the pond, as needed. Dirty water and bottom sludge would make excellent fertilizer.

      I'm developing part of my place with public walking trails, and a petting zoo. If you show up bright and early on Saturday morning the wife and kids could be treated to a noisy spectacle seldom seen outside of horror movies.

     We don't have much of a Mafia presence on Vancouver Island. It's too bad. They would probably have lots of leftover goat guts and chicken heads to feed to the fish.

      Thank you: Dale Hodgins  ,  a.k.a.  the  "Roadside Butcher"    -----, politically and pragmatically incorrect.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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Build it and they will come.

laughed all the way through the post.  thanks.
 
Dale Hodgins
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                                  Free Butcher Shop   

  I have no intention of trying to operate a slaughterhouse or butcher shop. Too many rules, too much liability...( No one will be invited to do anything on the property until I have adequate insurance.) But I may provide a little shack with stainless steel surfaces beside the pond so that hunters may process their deer and elk. If it's illegal to charge for this and still not be a butcher shop, I will do that. If not, I'll let people do it for free. This would undoubtedly result in quite a bit of  free deer meat. A big slop bucket could be provided and its contents regularly ground for.
   
    I know several people who raise chickens organically and don't really have a good place to process them at home. Everything they leave behind is useful. If someone let me butcher 100 chickens in a nice clean facility I would definitely give him a chicken or two.

    I expect to include a rocket stove water heater so the whole place can be hosed down with hot water and then steamed after each use. I'm going to need somewhere to slaughter my own animals and fish so the public nature of the facility won't really add to my cost. The floor and all surfaces of this little shack would be sloped so that everything can be sprayed with water and it would all run into the pond.

                                          Pond cleaning
   
    The feeding area would undoubtedly fill up with bone fragments and other waste products which need to be cleaned up from time to time. This could be done with some sort of robust pool vacuum or the water level could be lowered occasionally to allow for a shovel and wheelbarrow approach. An extra thick sacrificial layer of rubber would protect the pond liner. The pond would be built with a deep central trench running lengthwise. Debris would tend to concentrate in the trench so that it will be unnecessary to vacuum the entire pond.

    The feeding area would be less than 3 feet deep and fairly level. This would facilitate cleaning without dumping vast amounts of water, and it would prevent me from sliding to the depths on what is likely to become a very slimy surface. The thick rubber would allow me to wear cork boots with those metal grippy spikes.
     
                                            Algae bloom

        It is inevitable that very rich water exposed to sunlight will grow algae and other phytoplankton. During the summer I will stock the pond with young tilapia or other filter feeders to clean up the algae. The catfish will probably eat some of them and that's fine. When I was 10 I grew the largest squash our family had ever seen by regularly fertilizing it with algae which was raked from our exceptionally filthy pond. We swam in it.
                                     
                                      Chicken and pig feed

    Chickens like many of the same foods eaten by carnivorous fish. When there's plenty to go around, I'll give them first dibs. Pigs might also benefit from this food but I would be careful to not include any brain material from other mammals and would not feed them pigs. Very few people in this area raise pigs so that really won't be an issue. The idea in not using brain material is to prevent mad cow/mad pig disease.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Handling stinky roadkill seems kind of gross, so I wonder if using Black Soldier Fly larvae to turn the roadkill into an easily feedable form might be something to look at.  Building a large version of the self-harvesting maggotarium might work.

There would still be bones that would need processing, but I wonder if these could be ground in a chipper and used as a garden supplement.

 
osker brown
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I'm not sure if I understand all the parts of your system, but from what you've posted previously I believe this is an aquaponic system with vegetable grow beds?  If so you might want to examine the possibility of pathogens getting into vegetables through the water.  It seems remote and if I were eating the veggies I would probably just use a low tech filter system (run the water through Stropharia innoculated wood chips?).

Just a thought...sounds like a great idea though, and lots of fun!

peace
 
                            
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When people first started raising trout, the most common way to feed them was to get beef heads from the butcher and hang them above the water.  Flies would lay eggs on them and the maggots would fall into the water.  Liver, which nobody ate back then so could be had for free or close to it, was ground and used to feed the small fry.  Even 50 years ago, it was common to grind liver to feed for sick fish.
 
Tyler Ludens
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osker wrote:
(run the water through Stropharia innoculated wood chips?).


I wonder if I can cram another kind of growbed into my system.....   a mushroom bed.......
 
                                  
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Have you thought of hanging the road kill over the ponds and letting the fish eat the magots that will drop from the carcase?  This may reduce the risk of pathogens.


Martyn
 
Dale Hodgins
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    I posted this two weeks ago  on a fish food thread---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  When I was a kid our neighbour Reinhardt Ackhardt, a very frugal German butcher hung cow heads and other waste over his fish pond. The maggots dropped into the water along with bite sized morsels of carrion.  It was a long way from any house. The smel on hot summer days was intense.

    He sold clean sunbleached sculls after they spent a winter by the pond.




 
Dale Hodgins
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:Handling stinky roadkill seems kind of gross, so I wonder if using Black Soldier Fly larvae to turn the roadkill into an easily feedable form might be something to look at.  Building a large version of the self-harvesting maggotarium might work.

There would still be bones that would need processing, but I wonder if these could be ground in a chipper and used as a garden supplement.

I've taken some time to learn more about Black soldier flies and I think they would be useful. I would still run everything through the chipper to get a nice uniform feedstock for them. So it won't be any less work or any less disgusting. I could see feeding stomach contents from large critters directly to the fish. Also things like hides and hoofs might be better utilized if they were fed to the larvae. I'm particularly fond of the idea of using these larvae as a heat source in a greenhouse. Using them in this way could make it a 12 month operation.

I have access to huge amounts of waste from Alder and cottonwood trees. I'm hoping that incorporating the high nitrogen carrion components will allow the larvae to also make use of the nutrient value in the bark and leaves. These two species are favored by beavers and are amongst the most nutritious of tree wastes. Wood waste should absorb nutrient rich run off from the larvae.
 
Tyler Ludens
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yes, on second thought the chipper makes a lot of sense.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Several things have happened since this thread was started. A guy who owns an excavator lives at the property. Two useless tenants arrived 21 months ago. They will be gone in 3 weeks.

The excavator was supposed to produce a pond in September, but got called away on a protracted job that isn't over. I will give that tenant an ultimatum concerning machine work. He pays no rent.

Here's some really good news. My brother has purchased a giant hammer mill that once processed forestry waste. It's giant by home standards but not as big as most commercial grinders. It needs a big diesel motor. His place is small and there are several immediate neighbors. I haven't seen it yet. It is still stored where he bought it. It's going to need to be stored between jobs, so naturally I'm willing to accommodate and play with it. Since there is still no pond, any carrion that is processed will need to be mixed with wood chips. A small amount of carrion has showed up. The tenant who owns the excavator has an old camper where deer are processed by him and several friends.. They bury the entrails.
 
Steven Johnson
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i'm pretty sure it was in joel salatins book, 'folks this ain't normal' that he describes how it was once the job of farm kids to kill a possum or some such every week or so to supplement the diet of barnyard chickens. I did that for years, when I had chickens, but didn't tell anyone since I didn't know it was traditional, gave them cow and goat parts and such too, or whatever came available. it is perfectly normal(except that normal really means perpendicular or square, so I get a little confused some times. don't tell anyone.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Regarding dead things for chicken food: During the summer I'll let dead things hang out for a day or two in the open to get shot up with maggots and then bury it 6 to 12 inches in the compost pile before it starts to smell super ripe. sure enough 2 or three days later the chickens will have dug it up and it will have exploaded in maggots that they love to eat. Its pretty damn disgusting actually. But a free meal is a free meal.
 
Robert Harsell
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Why not tie a block to the critter's neck and then toss him in the pond?

Why does he have to be ground up?

He'll rot and get eaten whether he's ground up or not, won't he?
 
Sean Banks
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if you did that you would start have water quality issues......lots of bacteria which then would reduce oxygen
 
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