Submitted to: Poultry Times
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 22, 2003
Publication Date: March 17, 2003
Citation: MILES, D.M., CHAMBLEE, T.N. Sand can be used as litter in broiler hourses. Poultry Times. 2003. March 17, 2003.
Interpretive Summary: Recent trends in the poultry industry to extend the use of bedding material on the floor of the broiler house have promoted the search for alternative materials. Generally, biodegradable materials like pine shavings are used. It is thought that sand may be a viable bedding material and can be used in the house longer because it will not degrade over time. Other research has shown that bird growth characteristics on sand are comparable to those on wood shavings and body weight can be improved using sand. The mixture of bedding material and poultry excreta is known as litter. This work included five broiler flocks over one year and determined that sand litter contains less phosphorus and less nitrogen than shavings litter; the nutrient buildup and nutrient fate data are in the early stages of development and are not yet established. Flock litter maintenance usually includes removing the upper crust that forms during a flock as bedding material and an increasing amount of excreta combined; this upper layer is known as cake and removing it is decaking. This work utilized a Lewis Brothers #4 housekeeper for decaking both bedding materials with a smaller mesh screen for the sand. A larger tractor should be considered when decaking sand, because the cake is much heavier than a load of shavings cake. The farmer or integrator should consider the nutrient capacity of sand for nutrient management plans as well as equipment modifications and support before choosing sand as a broiler bedding material.
A cooperative effort between the USDA-ARS and the Mississippi State Poultry Science Department placed washed-mortar sand and green pine shavings in a commercial size, tunnel-ventilated broiler house to compare nutrient buildup in each litter type. With the house oriented lengthwise east to west, the sand occupies the north half and the shavings the south half, both running the full length of the house. After five flocks (one year), the litter side-by-side comparison shows lower moisture in the sand, similar pH for both materials, and a lower nutrient content for sand. After the house was cleaned out, soil samples were taken from the dirt floor of the house. The soil under the sand half had slightly more phosphorus than did the soil under the shavings (516 vs. 446 mg/kg). This may indicate that some nutrients are subject to leaching through the sand. The nitrogen levels in the soil under the sand side were about half of that under the shavings. Combining this with the comparison of litter nitrogen levels suggest that there are more nitrogen losses to the air using sand. Between flocks, the house was decaked using a Lewis Brothers #4 housekeeper. Each sand cake load weighed approximately one ton more than the shavings. The average load for both litter types had approximately one ton more than the shavings. The average load for both litter types had approximately one ton of moisture. There were one to two more loads of sand cake than shavings cake after each growout. The sand screen, due to its smaller size, allows for more efficient cake removal.