Poultry Litter Management

Poultry houses need to be managed in a way that will minimize litter moisture and improve litter quality. Litter storage conditions (prior to use), bird nutrition, environmental conditions (humidity and condensation), and equipment (drinkers, foggers and evaporative cooling pads) in houses all can contribute to problems with litter moisture if they are not managed properly.

Litter quality is important to achieve optimum bird performance and therefore poultry litter management is extremely vital to a good flock. Wet litter will increase the incidence of breast blisters, skin burns, scabs, bruising, condemnations and downgrades. Wet litter promotes the growth of pathogens. Furthermore, wet litter is the primary cause of ammonia emissions from litter. Chickens are sensitive to ammonia, and ammonia can cause blindness, decreased growth rate, reduced feed conversion rate and condemnations. In order to have birds free from burn and suffering for toxic ammonia levels you must follow poultry litter management best practices.

To keep litter dry, circulation fans should be used to move air within the house while moving warm air off of the ceiling and down to the floor. When air inlets are used, proper static pressure and air velocity should be maintained to promote a good mixing of air and to keep cold air from going to the floor when it enters the house. In addition, heating and ventilating a house will remove moisture, since warmed air holds moisture and can be ventilated from a house.

Proper maintenance of watering systems is critical to a quality poultry litter management program. Watering systems need to be checked often for leaks, and drinker height and water pressure need to be adjusted according to bird growth. When leaks or wet spots occur in the litter, the wet litter needs to be removed and replaced with dry bedding. Between flocks, caked litter should be removed to get excessive moisture out of the house. Growers also should make sure seepage is not an issue in poultry houses. The grading and drainage around houses should not allow stormwater to enter houses.

Using Litter Life helps growers in two ways. First, The humic acid and biological activity in Litter Life both help to dry out the litter. The biology in litter life accelerates the decomposition of the litter, then turns the ammonia into ammonium nitrate, plant food. Litter Life both helps to keep the litter dry and takes ammonia completely out of the equation.

Re-using Poultry Litter

Re-using litter can be beneficial and economical, if managed properly, and has become a standard in the poultry industry. As poultry litter is re-used, there is less to dispose of or apply to the land over a specified period of time. Thus, the chance of nutrient or pathogen contamination to waterways is reduced, which benefits the environment. In addition, it means poultry growers can reduce their operating costs by not having to purchase, handle and dispose of litter after each flock. The availability of bedding also has become an issue for poultry growers. Therefore, re-using litter has benefits to production and costs.

In-house pasteurization or composting of litter between flocks of broilers has become a popular management practice in the broiler industry. This process is commonly known as windrowing. This is a labor intensive process where a tractor with an extended width blade is used to push the litter into long piles about 2 feet high and 4 feet wide extending the full length of the poultry house. The litter then remains in the windrows for seven to 10 days before having to be redistributed over the floor of the houses. The idea is to have heat from the decomposition or composting process heat up these piles, evaporating off excess moisture and and hopefully killing unwanted bacteria and pathogens in the litter.

Keeping harmful bacteria in check is a key part of any poultry litter management plan. The disadvanges to windrowing are the amount of work required, and the value of just killing off all the bacteria in the litter. Windrowing does not kill all the bacteria, and is indescriminate about the bacteria it does kill off, good or bad. The resulting litter has low levels of bacteria at first. Bacteria returns fairly quickly however, and there is no guarantee that some pathogen far worse then what was there before will fill the void that was created.

Litter Life eliminates the need for windrowing. The bacteria present in litter life are extremely dominate. They take over the litter, forcing malevolent bacteria out of the litter.This effect continues for the length of the flock. There is no void in bacteria populations that can be filled, so flocks stay protected. Litter Life also dries out poultry litter. Growers often notice half the caking with litter life then they might experience in an untreated house

If you are interested in incorporating Litter Life into your poultry litter management please give us a call.

Poultry Litter Management
(800) 608-3755.