Delaware poultry growers using freezer storage units can now recoup 75% of the collection fee paid to have their frozen dead chickens hauled away.
The Delaware Nutrient Management Commission unanimously approved a pilot cost-share program intended to increase wider adoption of freezer units.
Commission members cited several reasons for supporting the relatively new nutrient management practice, including improved worker welfare, enhanced biosecurity, better neighbor relations and a reduction in pollution since chicken carcasses are often buried.
The Commission, which has a long history of promoting good stewardship practices, already administers another hauling initiative. The state’s manure relocation program, which has been operating for a decade, assists with the transport of litter from a farm where the excess nutrients were generated to another farm in need of nutrients or to an alternative use facility.
“The new mortality relocation program is a natural complement to the original one,” according to Victor Clark, who co-owns Greener Solutions, a freezer collection service based in Millsboro. “Whether the excess nutrients are in the form of manure or mortality, encouraging alternatives to land application is one of the Commission’s stated strategic goals.”
The farmer applies to the Nutrient Management section of the Delaware Department of Agriculture for the cost-share funding.
The amount of nitrogen and phosphorous being diverted from land application has broader implications. A joint application by Delaware and Maryland to assign the use of freezer units “interim best management practice” status was approved last year by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Ag Workgroup.
Using on-farm freezer units for mortality management is simple. Routine mortality (chickens that did not die of a contagious disease) are stored inside a specially designed freezer collection unit.
A customized collection vehicle arrives between flocks to empty the units so they are ready for the next flock. The chickens are taken to a rendering plant where the material is recycled for other uses (poultry fat can be used to make biofuels), which is why the material must be preserved in a freezer until pick up.
Growers switching to freezer units have been able to greatly reduce the time and money they previously spent on composting, realizing thousands of dollars a year in operational savings, according to a Greener Solutions press release.
For more information about the cost-share program, visit the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission at 2320 S. Dupont Hwy, Camden, DE 19901 – or call 302-698-4558. For more information about on-farm freezer collection units, visitwww.FarmFreezers.com.