Poultry litter
In agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, poultry litter or broiler litter is a material used as bedding in poultry operations to render
the floor more manageable. Common litter materials are wood shavings, sawdust
Sawdust is a by-product of cutting lumber with a saw, composed of fine particles of wood. It can present a hazard in manufacturing industries, especially in terms of its flammability....

, peanut
The peanut, or groundnut , is a species in the legume or "bean" family , so it is not a nut. The peanut was probably first cultivated in the valleys of Peru. It is an annual herbaceous plant growing tall...

 hulls, shredded sugar cane, straw
Straw is an agricultural by-product, the dry stalks of cereal plants, after the grain and chaff have been removed. Straw makes up about half of the yield of cereal crops such as barley, oats, rice, rye and wheat. It has many uses, including fuel, livestock bedding and fodder, thatching and...

, and other dry, absorbent, low-cost organic materials. Sand is also occasionally used as bedding.

After use, the litter consists primarily of poultry manure
Manure is organic matter used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. Manures contribute to the fertility of the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that are trapped by bacteria in the soil...

, but also contains the original litter material, feathers, and spilled feed.

A new development in the industry is the use of coir
Coir is a natural fibre extracted from the husk of coconut and used in products such as floor mats, doormats, brushes, mattresses etc. Technically coir is the fibrous material found between the hard, internal shell and the outer coat of a coconut. Other uses of brown coir are in upholstery...

 pith as a deep litter
Deep litter
Deep litter is an animal housing system, based on the repeated spreading of straw or sawdust material in indoor booths. An initial layer of litter is spread for the animals to use for bedding material and to defecate in, and as the litter is soiled, new layers of litter are continuously added by...

. This product has proven to absorb odour-causing ammonia and greatly reduce lung complications associated with poultry growing.

Use as Fertilizer

Poultry litter's traditional use is as fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

. As with other manures, the fertilizing value of poultry litter is excellent, but it is less concentrated than chemical fertilizers, giving it a relatively low value per ton. This makes it uneconomical to ship long distances. Extracting its value requires that it be used on nearby farms. In regions where there are more poultry farms than suitable nearby farmland, the litter tends to go to waste in one way or another.

Use as Cattle Feed

Traditionally used as fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

, it is now also used as a livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

 feed as a cost-saving measure compared with other feedstock materials, particularly for beef
Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. It is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of the Middle East , Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Europe and the United States, and is also important in...


Prior to 1967, the use of poultry litter as cattle feed was unregulated but that year the FDA issued a policy statement that poultry litter offered in interstate commerce as animal feed was adulterated effectively banning the practice. In 1980, FDA reversed this policy and passed regulation of litter to the states. In December 2003, in response to a the detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy , commonly known as mad-cow disease, is a fatal neurodegenerative disease in cattle that causes a spongy degeneration in the brain and spinal cord. BSE has a long incubation period, about 30 months to 8 years, usually affecting adult cattle at a peak age onset of...

 (mad cow disease)in a cow in the state of Washington, the FDA announced plans to put in place a poultry litter ban. Because poultry litter can contain recycled cattle proteins as either spilled feed or feed that has passed through the avian gut, the FDA was concerned that feeding litter would be a pathway for spreading mad cow disease. In 2004, FDA decided to take a more comprehensive approach to BSE that would remove the most infectious proteins from all animal feeds. The FDA decided at this point that a litter ban was unnecessary in part based on comments by the North American Rendering Industry (http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dailys/03/Feb03/020603/8004e16b.html). In 2005, the FDA published a proposed rule that did not include a litter ban and in 2008 the final rule did not include the ban either.

Use as Fuel

There are currently several electrical generating plants in the UK, and recently in the US, that are utilizing poultry and turkey litter as their primary fuel. Most of these plants were developed by Energy Power Resources (in the UK), or by their US subsidiary, Fibrowatt USA.
Operating plants include Thetford (38.5 MWe), Eye (12.7 MWe), Westfield (9.8 MWe), and Benson (55 MWe).

On a smaller scale, poultry litter is used in Ireland as a biomass
Biomass, as a renewable energy source, is biological material from living, or recently living organisms. As an energy source, biomass can either be used directly, or converted into other energy products such as biofuel....

energy source. This system uses the poultry litter as a fuel to heat the broiler houses for the next batch of poutry being grown thus removing the need for LPG gas or other fossil fuels.

Some companies such as Advanced Fibers & Powders are also developing gasification technologies to utilize poultry litter as a fuel for electrical and heating applications, along with producing valuable by-products including activated carbons and fertililzers.

External Links

LPE Learning Center (from the Livestock and Poultry Environment Learning Center an[www.extension.org eXtension] community of practice])
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.