Effects of Microbial Litter Amendments on Broiler Performance, Litter Quality and Ammonia Production



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The reuse of litter in broiler production can lead to litter pathogen buildup and high levels of ammonia in broiler housing, thus resulting in poor broiler performance. This study evaluated the effects of two microbial litter amendments on litter characteristics, ammonia production and broiler performance. Experiment one, consisting of three trials, utilized eight pens approximately 3 x 3.2 m (10 x 10.5 ft) to rear broilers to 49 d of age. Experiment two, consisting of one trial, utilized twelve 1.8 x 3.7 m (6 x 12 ft) pens to rear broilers to 42 d of age. Used litter was obtained from separate commercial broiler farms for each experiment and placed into the pens at an average depth of 11 cm (4.3 in). Feed consumption and mortality were recorded for each pen for each trial. Ammonia production was measured by placing an enclosed chamber over the litter and measuring the headspace ammonia concentration after 20 minutes for both experiments. Experiment one also utilized a two minute ammonia flux technique. Ammonia measurements were taken at the time of litter treatment, at chick placement, and once per week for the remainder of the grow-out. Litter samples were collected at the same time and location as ammonia measurements. At the end of all trials, caked litter was removed from each pen, weighed and sampled. Litter and cake samples were analyzed for total aerobic and anaerobic microbial counts in experiment 1. Experiment 2 analyzed aerobic litter samples only. Paw scores were also recorded at the end of each trial for all birds using a 3-point scale. Data was subjected to ANOVA using the GLM procedure with means deemed significantly different at P < 0.05. Statistical differences were seen sparingly in different parameters in both experiments; however these differences were random in their distribution and showed no trend. Final results indicated that the microbial litter amendments had no effect on broiler performance, litter characteristics or ammonia production.