Importance of research on the quantity and quality aspects of litter material in poultry production
H. KHOSRAVINIA, H.N.N. MURTHY, and B. UMAKANTHA
AICRP in Poultry Breeding for Meat,
VeterinaryCollege, Hebbal, Bangalore - 560 024
Vast majority of meat-type poultry are still raised in dirt floor systems across the globe. This system of production consumes large quantities of processed soiled wood residues and variety of other by-products such as rice hulls as bedding material. Whatever litter source, its categorizing has major impact on at least four broad aspects of the whole system; 1) live bird’s performance, 2) carcass quality and processing efficiency, 3) human food safety, and 4) application of used litter. The focal relevant characteristics of a litter source which shall practically come in spotlight are particle size and shape, nutrients composition, pH, dustiness potential, moisture absorbability, temperature, microbial load (fungi, molds, aerobic and anaerobic bacteria) and caking potential. These properties are the cause for diverged influence of different litter sources in counteraction with environmental condition inside the poultry house on the above-mentioned aspects. Emission of harmful gases, litter pick up by birds, incidence of breast blisters, breast buttons, hook burns and food pad injuries, incidence of leg abnormalities, contamination with mycotoxins, heavy metals and other hazardous chemicals, influencing the bird’s natural behaviors such as litter scratching and dust bathing are some of the matters pertaining to litter characteristics. Handling and application of used litter is the other issue of concern. Poultry litter could be considered as a huge recycling and value-adding path. Lot of natural sources such as wood and plant residues, leaves and municipal garbage may through this path be amended to worthwhile sources of animal food, fertilizer and fuel even in commercial scale. This paper discusses the above issues concerning poultry litter sources in detail and suggests some research topics on current pertaining problems.