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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Mississippi State, Mississippi » Poultry Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #250779

Title: Evaluation of Chopped Switchgrass as a Litter Material

item DAVIS, J - Mississippi State University
item Purswell, Joseph - Jody
item COLUMBUS, E - Mississippi State University
item KIESS, A - Mississippi State University

Submitted to: International Journal of Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/5/2010
Publication Date: 5/29/2010
Citation: Davis, J.D., Purswell, J.L., Columbus, E.P., Kiess, A.S. 2010. Evaluation of Chopped Switchgrass as a Litter Material. International Journal of Poultry Science. 9(1): 39-42.

Interpretive Summary: Pine shavings have traditionally been the bedding material of choice for commercial broiler producers. However, the high cost and limited availability of pine shavings has highlighted the need to find alternative materials for bedding. Chopped switchgrass was evaluated to determine its suitability for short-term use as a bedding material for broiler production. Switchgrass is a yielding forage crop which can grow across the Southeastern U.S. where the bulk of commercial broiler production is located. Broilers reared on chopped switchgrass bedding showed no differences in live performance or carcass weights when compared to those reared on pine shavings. Incidence of footpad dermatitis was significantly lower for birds reared on chopped switchgrass bedding. The results show that for short duration use, switchgrass is an acceptable substitute for pine shavings.

Technical Abstract: An alternative broiler litter to pine shavings may be switchgrass, a high yielding forage crop (8-12 tons per acre) that can grow across the Southeastern U.S. A study was conducted to determine the efficacy of chopped switchgrass as a litter material for broiler chickens. Pine shavings (PS) and switchgrass (SG) were used as litter treatments with 10 replications each. Body weight, body weight gain, feed consumption, feed conversion, carcass weights and mortality were not different between treatments. However, the incidence of foot pad dermatitis was significantly decreased with SG litter. Live performance and carcass weights were not affected by using chopped SG as a litter material when rearing broilers over a short duration (one flock cycle).