Like it or not, if you are going to own livestock at some point you will also own dead stock. Disposing of a dead chicken or rabbit is one thing, disposing of a 1000lb cow on a small homestead is quite another matter that involves some more work and planing. The job is time sensitive as well, especially when it is warm outside. Every part of the country has different rules and laws pertaining to dead livestock these days. I have listed all options and leave it up to you to figure out whether or not your local bureaucracy approves or not.
Options For The Homesteader
You might say, why not just eat it? If they cow is dead because it broke its leg or some such thing and you had to shoot it, by all means go ahead and process the animal. But if the cow has died of a sickness or disease, it is best not to consume the meat. It is our rule never to eat a cow that is sick or died from illness.
The simplest and least complicated way to deal with a dead cow is to call the rendering company. In many rural areas the rendering company sends out trucks every day to pick up dead cows. If you own a cow it would be wise to find the nearest rendering company and write down their phone number. If you wake up one day with 1000lb bovine corpse to deal with, you can call and give them your address and they will dispatch the call to a nearby truck. Rendering trucks have an electric winch on them and they simply back up to the cow and wrap the cable to its leg and pull it onto the truck. Most places will pick it up for free. Just be sure to call as soon as the cow dies. They may refuse to pick it up if it’s bloated up like a giant balloon and turned 3 shades of green and purple.
Burying a cow is no small task. I wouldn’t recommend trying it without a front end loader on a tractor or a skidsteer. It takes a mighty big hole to make a cow disappear. The deeper the better when it comes to the hole. Do it away from the house and away from the well. (may not be legal in your town)
Drag It To The Woods
This is not something that will work for a small acreage homestead but if you have a large spread it might. A dead cow is going to stink for a long time. Eventually the buzzards, crows, flies, and coyotes will clean it up though. If you do this drag it to the furthest corner you can but use your head. If the backside of your place butts up to another big tract of unpopulated land that’s great. If the backside of your property is bordered by new house with a fancy swing set then it probably ain’t such a hot idea after all. (may not be legal in your town)
These are the most basic options for deposing of a dead cow. If available in your area, my first recommendation is to call the rendering truck. If that’s not an option you will have to make one of the other 3 work.