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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Treating Poultry Litter with Alum

Authors
item MOORE, PHILIP
item Watkins, Susan - UNIV OF ARKANSAS
item Carman, Dennis - USDA/NRCS
item Delaune, Paul - UNIV OF ARKANSAS

Submitted to: Extension Fact Sheets
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 2003
Publication Date: May 1, 2004
Citation: Moore Jr, P.A., Watkins, S., Carman, D., Delaune, P. 2004. Treating poultry litter with alum. Extension Fact Sheets. (FSA8003-PD-1-04N).

Interpretive Summary: This is a factsheet for poultry growers on how to use alum. Alum (aluminum sulfate) is an acid that is commonly used as a poultry litter treatment. It is marketed under the brand name Al+Clear. It is available in either a dry or liquid form. Alum additions to poultry litter results in reduced ammonia levels, reduced pathogen levels, improved bird performance, reduced propane use, higher forage yields, and lower phosphorus runoff. Alum is normally applied at a rate of 125 and 250 lbs/1,000 ft2. Dry alum can be applied with a number of different spreaders, such as de-caking machines, fertilizer spreaders, manure trucks, or drop spreaders. After de-caking the house, alum is typically broadcast applied to the litter. To insure the chickens do not consume the granules of alum, it is best to till the product into the litter. This can be done with a litter de-caker or with any other device that physically mixes the alum into the litter. Liquid alum is normally only applied by a certified professional applicator. Like all acids, it should be treated with the proper respect. Applicators should always wear goggles for eye protection and a dust mask to avoid breathing alum dust, particularly if a spreader is used that 'broadcasts' the material. Gloves should also be worn when handling alum to prevent skin irritation. The acid in alum will be neutralized in the litter after 3 to 4 weeks. Thus there are no precautions needed for handling the litter. The cost of alum can vary greatly, depending on if it is liquid or dry alum, how far the farm is from an alum plant.

Technical Abstract: This is a factsheet for poultry growers on how to use alum. Alum (aluminum sulfate) is an acid that is commonly used as a poultry litter treatment. It is marketed under the brand name Al+Clear. It is available in either a dry or liquid form. Alum additions to poultry litter results in reduced ammonia levels, reduced pathogen levels, improved bird performance, reduced propane use, higher forage yields, and lower phosphorus runoff. Alum is normally applied at a rate of 125 and 250 lbs/1,000 ft2. Dry alum can be applied with a number of different spreaders, such as de-caking machines, fertilizer spreaders, manure trucks, or drop spreaders. After de-caking the house, alum is typically broadcast applied to the litter. To insure the chickens do not consume the granules of alum, it is best to till the product into the litter. This can be done with a litter de-caker or with any other device that physically mixes the alum into the litter. Liquid alum is normally only applied by a certified professional applicator. Like all acids, it should be treated with the proper respect. Applicators should always wear goggles for eye protection and a dust mask to avoid breathing alum dust, particularly if a spreader is used that 'broadcasts' the material. Gloves should also be worn when handling alum to prevent skin irritation. The acid in alum will be neutralized in the litter after 3 to 4 weeks. Thus there are no precautions needed for handling the litter. The cost of alum can vary greatly, depending on if it is liquid or dry alum, how far the farm is from an alum plant.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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